The one ahead wore a frown on his face. The other two were glaring at each another.
"Binius! Don't let your crazy hatred for humans take you over!" one of the two Goblins exclaimed. His name was Philopappus.
Those three were the Great Seniors of the academy. In the Royal Academy, their authority did not lose out to anyone. Even the King had to give those three some face and could not go against their decisions concerning the Academy.
"Philopappus, you damned old fart! Why did your Clan of the Heavenly Eagle have to protect humans?!" barked Binius furiously.
Philopappus glared back at him equally aggressively: "Your Sect of the Worthy can't help worsen every relation we have with humans! You sent an army to die without asking for the King's permission! Our brothers' blood was shed because of you!"
"The blood they shed made them martyrs of your missions!"
As the two of them went on quarreling like kids, forgetting their authority and status, the Senior ahead knitted his forehead in disapproval, but uttered no sound.
Suddenly, a frightening Aura dropped down like an unsheathed sword, preventing them from breathing.
"Quiet, both!" the Senior solemnly blurted out. "If one of our students saw you, what would he or she think? Two Major Seniors bickering like bloody teens! Shame!"
Flapping his huge sleeve angrily, he removed the pressure he had suffocated the other Seniors with, withdrew his Aura and got lost deep in thought.
"I apologize, Crispius," Philopappus tried to justify himself, his hands stretched towards the third Senior who walked ahead of them, "but I can't let the Sect of the Worthy pervert the course of justice with their usual pressures!"
Binius was about to reply when Crispius turned towards them slowly. His eyes were flaming. Binius grew gloomier, but he dared not make a sound.
"Pervert the course of justice? That kid killed off three Goblins. What could the verdict possibly be?" said Crispius with a hint of anger and bitterness in his voice.
Crispius had devoted his entire life to the Goblin population. He had been educating the younger generations all his life. He was in the Tenth Phase Late stage and despite the fact that he wielded more power than the other two Seniors, who were in the Ninth Phase, he could only watch the domestic conflicts torturing Orma from the sidelines. The Clan of the Heavenly Eagle and the Sect of the Worthy were diverging with each passing day, irretrievably.
Nothing could bring them back to join forces. Not even the fear that the delicate balance that was shifting from time out of mind now could finally break and lead them towards a civil war. The catastrophe would befall them, eventually.
When Crispius had first heard about Helial, his hopes had livened up. Hopefully, the great Hero arrived in Orma could help them maintain the order once and for all.
Germanicus, Caesar's son, wasn't strong enough to turn the tables for Orma, despite being in the Tenth Phase. Comodus, Aure's son, was a cruel individual. Crispius wished that his talent stopped increasing; no good could come from a person like him ruling over Orma.
Caesar and Aure, leaders of the Clan of the Heavenly Eagle and the Sect of the Worthy respectively, were the only two Immortals in Orma. Their worldviews, however, couldn't differ any greater. Caesar wished that the Goblins would implement peace agreements with other nations, whereas Aure claimed that the Goblin race was naturally superior to the others and had a natural right to put them under their rule.
Moreover, regarding the two best geniuses of the younger generations, Circe wasn't talented enough to upset the balance and Pseudonym had never taken a stand. He was still an unknown variable.
Crispius heaved a sigh. Helial had managed to hurt Caesar before even reaching the First Phase. That kid… he could be considered a little whiz. He could have made a feeble ray of hope for Orma.
However, his hopes did not last long. Apparently, Caesar's pupil had decided to break the law that governed the Goblin population.
By killing indiscriminately three Goblin with the most trifling excuse, Helial had proved to have the heart of a monster. Crispius, who had been protecting the Goblin population all his life, thought back to how coldly that human had killed three Goblins and shook his head furiously. According to the servants, Helial had acted without the slightest hesitation. What kind of a monster must one be to kill someone so easily with no valid reason?
Crispius ran a hand over his wrinkled face where old age had left its marks. He had been stuck in the Tenth Phase for long, too long. Despite his remarkable lifespan, his chances of advancing to Immortality vanished with each passing day.
That was why he had felt the urge to devote himself to Orma's stability by focusing on the younger generations. That strength and that power would be essential to restore an order that had long been lost, and to do justice to their past magnificence. Orma couldn't bear a civil war, and Crispius had no way to stem that risk despite his high Phase.
He had clung to the hope that a young hero would stand out from the younger generations. A young hero who could lead Orma towards a sustained period of peace and prosperity.
The weight of all of the responsibilities falling on his shoulders was burdening him.
Suddenly, Philopappus cupped his hands and said: "I apologize for offending you like his, Crispius. I will step back and defer to your final judgement. I know you'll ensure the impartiality we need." Philopappus had indeed had an idea. If he deferred all judgment to Crispius, Binius wouldn't dare argue with the latter. After all, even though they all had the same title, Crispius' authority had undisputedly no equal in the Royal Academy. Binius couldn't deny him face.
Binius glared at Philopappus, enraged. However, he could only repeat his same words and cup his hands similarly: "I apologize for offending you too. I will defer to you judgement as well, brother Crispius," but promptly added: "in the hope it will be a wise judgement." The emphasis behind his words left no doubt on their hidden meaning.
Binius wanted Helial dead. Aure had consulted with him personally. He had suggested causing a severe blow to the King's authority by sentencing his new disciple to death. Philopappus, on the contrary, had received Caesar's order to make his best to let the boy live.
The final judgment, however, depended on Crispius only.
He was one of the most fearsome warriors in Orma. Despite his old age, his fame only lost out to that of the two Immortals. Major Senior of any Clan or Sect could barely compare him. And yet, Crispius had devoted himself to his people entirely. He had ignored all advantages he would have benefitted of if he had joined a faction. If he had joined a particular Clan or Sect, indeed, he could have probably accessed more resources and had Immortality closer at hand.
But… there's was a huge "but". If he had joined one of those great Clans, Crispius would have never been free enough to protect his people's interests. He would have had to answer to the members of the side he had joined. He would have had to protect the interests of a limited amount of people instead of those of the entire population. And that was not what Crispius aimed at. He had no interest in power itself; he wanted Orma to flourish. He couldn't care less about that warfare between individuals.
Crispius swept his tired gaze over the two Goblins and sighed: "I will take care of the boy. Impartially. I won't stand on either side. Today we'll have justice. You'd better leave your interests out of that room."
A hint of disapproval flashed on the Seniors' faces, along with some kind of admiration. Crispius was one of the very few warriors who had never asked for anyone's help on his Dao of Mana. During the wars, rumor had it that Crispius had even killed an Immortal. His name was legendary. Only Aure and the King could possibly overshadow him. And Crispius hadn't lost many times before them either.
Crispius made one of the greatest heroes in Orma. Every strong authority acknowledged him credit and paid him respect. No one would offend that oldie in the Tenth Phase. Not even Caesar and Aure would ever disrespect him. Though, despite everything, Crispius had never supported one side over the others, be it a Guild, a Clan or a Sect. Crispius had pledged faith only to his people.
The three kept walking until they reached a dark hallway. Suddenly, Crispius spoke: "The boy killed three Goblins. Unless he had reasonable grounds, he will be executed. So speaks the Orman Law." Hearing these words, Binius was thrilled to bits; Aure wouldn't scold him and would pay him a renewed respect instead. However, Crispius wasn't done talking. "But if his choice did have reasonable grounds and he shows promise as a warrior for Orma, I won't throw his life away so uselessly."
Three Goblins in scarlet tunics were advancing in a triangle, one slightly forward and the others behind on his sides.