Chapter 628: The Past Shapes Us All
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Become the Dragon King?
Link had never thought of that.
In truth, he had thought about bringing the young Red Dragons into the fold, but only as part of Ferde, and only some of them.
He had never actually thought about ruling the entire dragon race.
Also, if he became Dragon King, where would that put the Red Dragon Queen? As a dragon, she was still young. With royal dragon blood flowing through her veins, she could still live for 2000 years. There had never been any record of a king or queen as young as her retiring at such a young age.
Link was stunned for a moment but quickly composed himself. Even though the Dragon King's Bracelet was drifting in the air towards him, he did not take it. Instead, he stepped forward and bent over Gretel, trying to pull her up.
"Your Highness, what are you doing? Please get up." He was worried that Gretel might have been coerced by someone into doing this, which seemed possible, considering she still had not regained her full strength.
More than a month had passed. Link noticed that Gretel still had the Red Dragon Crystal on her, which meant that she still required external assistance to replenish her power.
To his surprise, Gretel did not budge from her half-kneel when Link tried to pull her up. In order to resist his efforts to get her up, she grounded both her knees to the ground. She then looked up at Link, her eyes slightly red. "Duke, I'm more than aware of my current physical condition. I fear... I won't be able to return to my full strength. Right now, I'm both physically and mentally unfit to lead the dragon race. I'm also aware of what the young Red Dragons are thinking now. I do not wish to see the dragon race fall apart because of me..."
Link frowned. He channeled his power into Gretel's body through his arm in order to gauge how much she had recovered from her injuries.
Link was a bit surprised by what he discovered. It had been close to two months, and Gretel's wounds had indeed healed for the most part. Though her external scarring had vanished completely, the deeper parts of her body showed no signs of recovery, especially her Heart of the Dragon, which remained just as lacerated as it had been two months ago.
The damaged Heart of the Dragon was still pumping out Dragon Power. However, this new Dragon Power flowing in her seemed weak and turbulent. It was definitely a far cry from the near flawless Dragon Power she had before.
Her current state was a lot worse than Link had anticipated.
With his limited understanding of the "Dragon" magic book, Link was unable to help Gretel with her predicament. Even the Red Dragon Queen herself and the Red Dragon Elders, who had a much more profound understanding of Dragon Power, could not think of any way to restore Gretel back to her former glory, so it seemed unlikely that Link would fare any better than any one of them.
"See?" Gretel let out a slow breath. "I'm no longer the queen the dragon race deserves."
With her Heart of the Dragon in tatters, she was now a mere shadow of her former self. If word of this got out, ambitious Red Dragons would begin circling around her like sharks, scheming to usurp her. In the worst case scenario, Gretel might even be assassinated to make room for a more competent ruler.
Gretel was intelligent enough to see the danger she would be putting her life in if she remained on the throne. On account of his many contributions to the dragon race, Link was the only candidate for the position of Dragon King that she recognized at the moment.
Finally understanding why she was doing this, Link looked at Red Dragon Elder Pettalong who was standing behind her. The aged Red Dragon wordlessly gave him a nod.
He had already accepted the cold hard reality of his queen's condition.
Link then looked at Wardaas, another Red Dragon Elder. He was much younger than Pettalong. He also had Level-9 Pinnacle power and was probably close to hitting Legendary. He seemed displeased about this, but when Link's gaze fell on him, he immediately suppressed his dissatisfaction and said with a low voice, "Duke, you are the only person fit to rule us right now."
From the looks of things, even though there were differing voices on the subject among the dragons, they seemed to have reached a temporary consensus. If Link was willing, he would be able to transition smoothly to the role of Dragon King.
With his current power level and intelligence, he might even be able to rapidly rise up the dragon's ranks and become an actual Dragon King!
Should he accept their offer then?
Link began weighing the pros and cons of becoming Dragon King.
The benefits were clear as day. He would have the loyalty of the entire dragon race. Dragons possessed near unlimited potential. Legendary masters would emerge among them under his guidance, and these masters would in turn provide a huge boost to Ferde's military strength.
In the long run, however, this could spell disaster for him!
The dragon race had always been fixated on maintaining the balance of the world. Due to their currently weakened state, they had temporarily set aside tradition in order to focus on more important matters. However, maintaining the balance of the world had always been an integral tradition of the dragon race. Since time immemorial, it had been ingrained so deeply within the consciousness of every dragon.
Once the dragon race regained their former glory under Link's leadership, their obsession with tradition might flare up once more.
If any of Link's actions ever ran contrary to the dragons' tradition, their desire to maintain the balance world might drive them to resist Link's rule. It would be the end for him if he failed to appease them.
Link was more than aware of his own character. He had never cared for the balance of the world. He was only ever content with admiring the dragons' guiding principle from a distance.
It could be said that a race's current state was but a shadow cast by its own past. The dragons had a long history behind them. They were made by their millennia-long tradition of safeguarding the world's balance.
In other words, there might be a clash of interests between Link and the dragon race in the future!
The outcome of this conflict could also be foreseen. One faction of dragons would remain loyal to him, while another faction would rise up in revolt against Link's rule.
At that point, the dragons had already become an integral part of Ferde's strength. Ferde would be caught in the crossfire of this conflict as a result.
An age of darkness loomed menacingly in his future still. Such chaos and internal strife would only push Ferde closer to the edge of destruction.
All these thoughts flashed through his mind in the blink of an eye. Finally, he made his choice.
He could bring a couple of young progressive-minded Red Dragons into Ferde, which seemed a lot safer than the alternative. However, this would mean that he would not be able to become an actual Dragon King!
Link then forcibly pulled the frail Red Dragon Queen up to her feet. With a wave of his hand, he activated a magical Distortion Field, forcibly pulling the two Red Dragon Elders up to their feet as well.
Link then took the Dragon King's Bracelet, which was pulsating with a silver-black light. However, he did not put it on. Instead, he put it back around the Red Dragon Queen's snow-white wrist.
"Duke?" Gretel was stunned. She did not expect him to refuse her offer. She also could not understand why he had refused it.
Link took a step back and bowed deeply before her. He then said seriously, "Your Highness, I am a Duke of the dragon race, and I will forever pledge my loyalty only to you, queen of the dragons. If any of your young dragons wish to further hone their skills, they are more than welcome to come work in Ferde. Should they grow weary of Ferde, they could always return to Dragon Valley. As for your injuries, that won't be a problem. I imagine that the dragon ancestral spirit, who had given me the Heart of the Dragon, will also be able to heal your wounds."
Pettalong was now looking at Link in confusion. Back then, he could see the fiery fire of ambition burning in the young man's eyes, which was the reason why he did not object to the Red Dragon Queen suggestion to retire from the throne.
Link was the one who had sealed up the realm crack. Such a feat had helped improve his reputation among the dragons. If the queen had held onto the throne, Pettalong feared that Link would resort to more radical means to reach his goal.
However, he did not anticipate Link's outright refusal of the throne. He stared at Link incredulously. Have I misjudged him?
Evelina and Piasce, who was standing in a corner, also looked at Link in surprise as well. They could not understand why Link would do such a thing. Only Eliard was able to grasp Link's intentions.
He looked at his friend and sighed inwardly. I see my old friend could still remain clear-minded even with potential fame and glory dangling before him. He truly is something.
At that moment, Eliard felt nothing but pride and respect towards Link.
The Red Dragon Queen looked at the Dragon King's Bracelet around her wrist. She then turned to look at Link in the eye. His eyes were still the same shade of black. Both his pupils glistened with a light as clear and penetrating as before. It was as if they were staring straight into her very core.
She and Link had researched spatial magic together, had fought the Void Tyrant side by side, and had even traversed the Sea of Void with each other. They had also worked together to formulate a magic seal capable of killing a god. Though they were not related by blood, they had known each other for a long time. Gretel finally understood Link's intentions as she stared into his eyes.
Taking a deep breath, Gretel shook her head and smiled bitterly at him. "Duke, the dragon race never had a depowered ruler sitting on its throne. This bracelet may well be the end of me."
Link laughed heartily. "Who would dare come at you with me around?"
Gretel's eyes glistened moistly when she heard Link's reply. Her red lips moved, as if she wanted to say something. However, the shadow of someone surfaced in her mind, and she decided against it. Gretel sighed. "Many thanks, Duke, for your support."
"Your Highness, try to focus on your recovery. I'll also help you look for ways to hasten your recovery process."
Gretel nodded and then turned around to leave.
When the three Red Dragons left the place, Evelina walked up before Link and asked, "My lord, why did you reject her offer?"
Link shook his head. "The past never stays completely dead. It defines who we all are. The dragons are an ancient race whose roots are deeply embedded in their past and tradition. I don't think I would be able to handle such a monolithic race on my own."
Piasce was also pondering on this question. He was stunned when he heard what Link said. He realized that he had hugely underestimated this human lord's foresight.
Suddenly, Link slapped his forehead. "I forgot to have Gretel unseal my Void Ferry. I'm going to go look for her."
Piasce's superiority complex over Link had crumbled altogether. He could not help but chuckle. I guess he's still a youngster at heart. Must be good to be young, though.
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