Zich enjoyed talking to Joachim and Evelyn after not meeting them for a long time, and thus he went to converse with the two whenever he was free.
The more he talked to them, the more Zich was able to confirm one crucial fact.
‘Those guys will live well even without me.’ Of course, if those two ever encountered danger again, Zich would crush those who dared to threaten his former subordinates with the might of a dragon slayer.
But it seemed like there was a low possibility that he would need to do that.
Not long after, the two left the Steelwall Estate.
Both Joachim and Evelyn were high-ranking nobles, and Joachim in particular was the lord of the Dracul Estate.
They couldn’t leave their posts for too long.
“We really hope that you will attend our wedding,” Joachim said to Zich.
“Please come with Ms.
Lyla,” Evelyn added.
Although reluctant to leave, the two departed with the promise of a reunion.
‘I must go to their wedding,’ Zich thought.
So, he needed to finish everything before that.
Zich also met the Crown Prince when the latter came to visit the Steelwall Estate.
Since they had met once before, the Crown Prince approached Zich in a familiar fashion, but unlike before, he addressed Zich formally.
This was because of the change in Zich’s social standing and status.
As expected, he tried to entice Zich to join his side with the promise of new titles, starting from the Count title and even as far as the title of Duke.
Zich was uninterested.
Even though the Crown Prince insisted, when he realized that Zich was genuinely uninterested, he had no choice but to give up on the matter.
“Fortunately, you truly seem uninterested in becoming a noble.
If you go to another kingdom and become a noble there, that will place us in a very difficult position.”
If a dragon slayer born from the Cronon Kingdom became a noble of another kingdom, it would damage the prestige of their kingdom severely, especially if the other kingdom didn’t have good relations with them.
Furthermore, it seemed obvious that the Steelwalls, who made up a large part of their military might, would get negatively affected by the news.
After all, it would be scandalous that a dragon slayer had gone to another kingdom because of the discrimination he faced from the Steelwalls.
On the other hand, if Zich simply didn’t go to another kingdom, the Crown Prince could ease the political pressure on him by explaining that the dragon slayer just wasn’t interested in noble statuses.
“Don’t worry, Your Highness.
I have no interest in aristocratic matters.”
“I hope you will keep your word on that, sir.
The other kingdoms have been giving a tremendous amount of attention to you.
We have been especially eyeing the Sestil Kingdom’s movements.”
The Sestil Kingdom was the kingdom that Count Flaud had been part of, and they naturally had an extremely bad relationship with the Cronon Kingdom.
“Did you just say the Sestil Kingdom, sir”
“Besides the Pinne family, most of the opposing troops in this war belonged to the Sestil Kingdom.
Of course, they are losing their minds since their relationship with a dragon slayer reached the worst possible outcome.” The Crown Prince laughed, clearly happy about his enemy kingdom’s misfortune.
His conduct as a royal was really exemplary.
Zich retorted, “I don’t have many ill feelings for the Sestil Kingdom.”
“Yes, unfortunately, that seems to be the case.
However, they probably won’t think you do.” A person’s impression of the other party could turn sour from a simple fistfight.
Evidently, it would be more so for opposing parties who had fought a bloody war not so long ago.
In addition, the Steelwalls fully redeemed themselves after the war and their behavior was justified.
It was enough to cause such a misunderstanding.
“This is information that just came in, but it seems like those guys are planning to ask you to succeed Count Flaud’s position.”
“They sure tried using their heads,” Zich said.
With Count Flaud’s suicide, the end of the Flaud family seemed near.
Count Flaud’s only child was Zich's dead mother, and he had no close relatives.
There could be distant relatives if they looked hard enough, and they would’ve normally come running to take the Count’s seat by now if the Flaud family’s image hadn’t reached the absolute gutters from this incident.
Although the Count’s title and land were enticing, the idea of inheriting a Bellid supporter’s asset deterred them.
Yet, if Zich inherited Count Flaud’s position, the story would be different.
Zich was the one who crushed Count Flaud’s schemes, and he was the Karuwiman Honorary Knight with deep connections with the Karuwimans.
If such a person became the next Count Flaud, the negative image they had as Bellid followers would be all washed away.
It was needless to explain the benefits of having the representative of the dragon slayers as one of their nobles.
Zich was also the previous count’s grandson.
There were a plethora of reasons to offer Zich the position.
“If you accept the offer, they are willing to combine nearby estates to raise your title to Duke.
Since the majority of the estates surrounding Count Flaud’s estate were also part of this war, they wouldn’t be able to refuse.
Instead, many would offer to give up parts of their territories to clear their names.”
“Oh my, how is everyone handing out the title of Duke so easily”
“That’s how appealing the skills and fame of a dragon slayer are.”
“Well, I’m not interested.” If he wanted to, Zich could take away the Steelwall Estate.
It was laughable that he would try to get the Flaud Estate now.
“Seeing your face, it really seems like you aren’t interested.
That’s a huge relief.” Although the Cronon Kingdom wanted to avoid losing Zich to any other kingdom, losing him to the Sestil Kingdom was the worst-case scenario.
That would mean that Zich’s unbelievable force would oppose them.
His inside sources already judged that there was a low possibility that Zich would accept such an offer, but even this tiny chance of the worst possible future placed the kingdom on high alert.
‘I should’ve sided with the Steelwalls from the beginning and built a connection that way,’ the Crown Prince thought to himself and sighed.
Who knew that this war would progress in such a way, and who could have expected a dragon’s appearance Not to mention, somebody defeated that dragon and become a dragon slayer—if somebody had foreseen this situation, the Crown Prince would look all over the kingdom to find that very person.
The Crown Prince said, “Anyway if you happen to become interested in a noble position in the future, I would like to ask you to come to our kingdom first.
We’ll give you the best treatment.
Since it may be awkward with Count Steelwall from your perspective, we will assign your estate as far away from him as possible.
Of course, we would never give you useless land either.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen, but if I become interested, I’ll consider your offer in a favorable light.”
“Thank you.” The Crown Prince wasn’t able to get the answer he wanted, but he comforted himself with the fact that he avoided the worst-case scenario of Zich going to another kingdom.
Then, he brought up another topic.
“I have one more request.
What do you plan to do with the dragon’s body”
It was the body of a legendary dragon.
Many people wanted to collect its body, whether it was a mage who was eager to study it, a noble who wanted to use it as a family’s symbol, or a merchant who was obsessed with collecting valuable items.
Even in legends, a dragon’s flesh, bones, teeth, scales, and all other parts were considered precious ingredients.
Currently, the dragon’s body had been taken by Count Steelwall’s army and was being kept in the Count’s mansion.
The Crown Prince continued, “Count Steelwall told me that he has no intention of claiming ownership of the dragon’s body.
He claimed that the people who defeated the dragon have full rights over it.”
Since several of the Count’s knights had also participated in the dragon’s conquest, the Count could claim partial ownership of the dragon’s body.
However, he gave up all rights over it and considered the dragon’s defeat as the knights’ individual merits.
Naturally, those who wanted the dragon’s body attempted to contact the dragon slayers, and of course, the one they wanted to meet the most was Zich.
Although the ownership over the dragon’s body had not yet been clearly determined, no one could deny that Zich’s share over the dragon’s body was the largest by far, and that was the reason why the Crown Prince had brought up this matter to Zich.
However, Zich had no intention to do what the Crown Prince wanted again.
Zich simply said, “I have no intention to sell it.”
Zich was not greedy for money, and he already had enough money to spend as much as he wanted.
Moreover, Zich received a hefty sum from Count Steelwall for his contribution to this war.
On the other hand, Zich wasn’t particularly interested in claiming rights over the dragon’s body.
Even though he didn’t have any special interest in keeping the dragon’s body, there was no reason for him to sell it either.
The Crown Prince said, “Based on your merits, you’ll be granted a large share of the dragon’s body, but wouldn’t it be difficult for you to carry all of it Excuse me for saying this, but you don’t even have a set residence, and I don’t think a magic box can contain such an enormous amount.”
“Well, I do have a place to store it.” If Zich stored the dragon’s body in the Clowon ruins, who would be able to steal it It was a place that was impossible to approach without Windur.
The Crown Prince tried to persuade Zich a little bit more, but Zich’s response was continuously negative.
There wasn’t much benefit for him to sell the dragon’s body.
“I guess it can’t be helped.” The Crown Prince sighed and eventually gave up.
To an ordinary person, the Crown Prince would have mentioned the kingdom’s force and half-threatened them, but he couldn’t do that with Zich, the representative of the dragon slayers.
In the worst-case scenario, if Zich got angry and stormed into the palace, no one would be able to stop him.
“Then, if you change your mind or need to dispose of the dragon’s body later, please ask us first.” This was the only thing he could say in the end.
Then, he thought, ‘I guess I have no choice but to ask the others if they have any intentions to sell their shares.’
However, the others wouldn’t be easy either.
Those who had a large stake to the dragon’s body were the elf princess, the former master of the magical tower, the Saintess, and the Saintess’ bodyguard—they were all people who the Crown Prince couldn’t treat with disrespect.
Moreover, Hans, Snoc, Elena, and the others had already given up their shares to Zich.
One fortunate aspect was that everyone who wished to purchase the dragon’s body was in the same position as him.
Even though the Crown Prince didn’t have any advantages, he wasn’t at a disadvantage compared to the others either; the Crown Prince had no choice but to console himself like this.
Thus, the Crown Prince ended his meeting with Zich without much profit.
* * *
Zich looked up at the dragon’s body.
Even though it had been several days since the dragon died, the dragon’s body showed no signs of decay.
Although it was widely known that the dragon’s body was being kept in the Count’s mansion, it was left fully exposed in the corner of the mansion’s yard.
Only the presence of several soldiers guarding its surroundings indicated the importance of the dragon’s body.
The reason why the dragon’s body was left fully exposed in the yard was simple—there was no room to store it.
In the first place, it had taken considerable effort to just bring the body to the mansion’s yard.
Zich tapped the dragon’s scales with his fist.
He was met with strong resistance and he thought, ‘In legends, they made armor out of dragon scales.’
He could tell how unbelievably tough the dragon’s scales were when he fought against it.
If a blacksmith made armor with the dragon’s scales, amazing armor would definitely be created.
‘No wonder the Crown Prince wanted to buy it himself.’ Zich had no intention of making anything out of the dragon’s body, but he had no intention to give it away either.
‘I’m sure I’ll find a use for it later in life.’
However, it didn’t matter to him if he couldn’t find a use for it later on; he could just live with it in his possession till the end of his life.
While Zich quietly observed the dragon’s body, he sensed two people approaching him from behind.
Judging by how the soldiers were not restraining them, they didn’t seem to be anyone suspicious.
‘Well, it would also be hard to steal this secretly as well.’ Zich stared at the people approaching him.
“Oh my, Sir Zich, you were already here.”
One smiled at him and the other hesitated to say hello to him.
They were Chelsea Windne and Pina Acous—Glen’s ex-comrades.