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Chapter split into four(4) pages
23. Full Scale War (1)
The tower lord, Herbert, felt the subtle stares of the sorcerers ever since he had entered the Ivory Tower and reached the height of the tower lord’s room. Of course he knew the reason why. He had received Intel from a few prior to entering the castle. However, he did not anticipate such behaviors from the point of his entrance into the tower.
“6th class, already a 6th class. Ha ha.”
The tower lord released mana in great fashion after a hollow laughter. Numerous documents, books, chairs and other things have scattered all over the place. The suppressed wrath seemed to finally be overpowering him.
‘Such a wicked plan was in the works.’
He thought of him as a ruler, as a king, among the novices. Herbert presumed his level to be only as high as the beginning of the 5th class level.
‘The level at which can be controlled as I please.’
Five years of thorough background investigation and private tutoring have been clearly whispered to the tower lord.
But, that was not the case. He was a 6th class grand sorcerer. Even five of the high level sorcerers are following him. He lost one half of the Ivory Tower. No, perhaps, even more. It felt as if everything was lost. Everything that was cultivated over the many decades. Hatred and sense of loss have overcome him.
‘Be calm. Think Herbert.’
He is still a novice no matter how great he is right now. A 17 year old novice as of this year. I can’t be losing everything to such bastard? Especially for someone that is none other than Herbert, the ruler and the tower lord of the Ivory Tower for many decades.
‘It must be restored. Everything must be restored to its own place.’
There was not a time to waste. Great urgency came over him. It has to be taken care of before he gets any stronger. Before he gains even greater strength.
The tower lord was preoccupied with a great concern. Suddenly, he has activated a communications line. It was a direct communications line to his assistant sorcerer.
“Marco, come up here for a moment.”
Soon after, a young sorcerer appeared, riding up an elevator. It was Marco, who was once deployed to the Mogrian region and already approaching the 3rd year since his tour of duty has ended.
“My lord. Have you called for me, sir?”
“Ah, you are here.”
Marco’s level has been steady, remaining at 2nd class, for the past 5 years. That itself is enough to make him a very talented sorcerer. The majority of the sorcerers cannot reach beyond the 1st class level, can they?
“I am suddenly reminiscing about the old times. It has been over twenty years since I saw you first. Marco, of course, you wouldn’t remember as you were a newly born infant.”
The tower lord’s visage has been filled with hatred and caution towards Ian. That ugliness was nowhere to be seen. Rather, his visage demonstrated kindness and affection more so than the usual.
“It is still vivid to me. A baby wrapped in a cloth looks up at me and smiled. Perhaps, it was because I had no children of my own. I couldn’t fathom handing it to someone else. You, that is.”
It was not widely known, but the tower lord has taken in the newly born Marco and nurtured him. Marco, in return, followed the tower lord as his own father. They were like this ever since and the relationship continued to this day.
“You crawled and stood up on your two feet…..I had even forgotten to tend to my work from the joy of watching you grow. The child born with the gift of sorcery was not content being gifted, but to have grown to become a validated sorcerer is certainly not anticipated. Now, could it have even been imagined?”
The tower lord looked upon Marco with a pleasant visage.
“This old man is very proud of you.”
“It is all because of your benevolent kindness, my lord.”
The exchanges of pleasantries broke with that for a while.
It was the tower lord, who was to break the silence.
“…..Yes. Do return to your quarters to continue your work. I just wanted to see you once more. Have you not persistently wished it in the recent days?”
There was certain grief in the tower lord’s smile. Marco sensed the sadness without any difficulty.
“Um? What is it?”
Marco was also aware of what has been happening inside the Ivory Tower. A stronger sorcerer has come to the scene, and nearly half of all the sorcerers inside the Ivory Tower have begun to follow him. Of course, it is customary for a generational change to occur by a higher classed sorcerer. But…
‘The tower lord is more than my father.’
Determined Marco began to speak. The voice was full of determination.
“If there is anything that I can do to help, I will do all I can in my limited power to support you, my lord. Please instruct me.”
“Ha ha, I shall just accept your words with gratitude.”
“I am sincere. My lord, I am indebted to you, you are my father and more important and greater than all those things combined. If there is an opportunity to repay my debt, I can and will do anything.”
Marco’s ardent loyalty. The tower lord simply smiled..
After some time has passed, smiling. Cautiously, the tower lord began to speak. With delight, Marco replied.
“At your command, sir.”
“Let’s see….Can you follow me?”
“Thank you. Truly Thank you.”
Holding Marco’s hand tightly, the tower lord had invoked a crystal ball at the corner of the desk. Then the elevator that was used to access the tower lord’s room and the inter-floor communication paths all began to close. It was often activated command to close off the area when silence was wanted, or secret meeting was to be conducted.
“My lord, if you close off……”
“Ah, it’s all right. There is an alternate path.”
The tower lord spoke as he took out a book from the bookshelf. It was a greenish, mildew colored book that gave an eerie feeling from just looking at it.
“This book shall guide us.”
The amazing thing occurred after the book was opened. To be exact it was immediately after mana was directed at it. Mirroring the color of the book cover, greenish energy emanated from the book. Could that be all? A circular ‘gate’ began to manifest in the middle of the tower lord’s room.
“This, this is…..?”
Marco murmured in shock. It was a magic that he was seeing for the first time. Is it really sorcery?
“Come, enter this way.”
“In to there, sir?”
“No need to fear. I will enter first, so you can follow me without worry.”
The tower lord entered through the circular, greenish gate as he spoke. As if he has done so many times before, there wasn’t even a minute hesitation.
Marco followed the tower lord after some hesitation. What he had encountered was darkness. On the other side of the gate was only complete darkness.
The tower lord’s voice was heard from the darkness. At the same time, bright light, light spell was cast. Since it was a light spell cast by the tower lord, the range of the light was immense as well. It was as if the darkness would be ripped open immediately.
Marco was bewildered at the same time. The images all around were as if it was a ‘prison’. That is, a prison, which was built deep underground.
“What is this place….”
In every which direction, there were only metal cages, further, images of many people were visible through them. There weren’t even any minute movements, but everyone was certainly breathing. Very weak breath of life was in them.
“Do not be too bewildered. They are only fuels.”
“Fuel…, fuels, my lord? What do you speak of all of a sudden….”
The tower lord replied as if it wasn’t even notable. As he closed the book, the circular gate that led them here disappeared immediately.
“Are they not all people?”
Marco approached the metal cages and observed the people held inside. Then he couldn’t help, but be shocked. There were two reasons. First reason was what he immediately recognized. Dark eyes only, without the whites are what he had encountered. They were not the eyes of humans.
One other thing that caused even greater stir and shock was there. Among the crowd of dark eyes, Marco saw a familiar face.
It was ‘Chris’, Marco’s classmate from the academy. Although he was pale, missing his right arm and the shoulder, and even with the hair, it was certainly Chris.
“You were certainly…..”
“Nearly died. Due to an accident during sorcery practice.”
The tower lord finished Marco’s sentence. Chris was definitely his friend, who had died due to an unfortunate accident during sorcery practice. But, ‘nearly died’?
“Most of the sorcerers in here are like that. Nearly died during their missions, nearly died due to accidents, or nearly died due to illnesses. There were some sorcerers that were brought here from foreign countries. Those that are not sorcerers were simply picked up from the back alleys.”
The tower lord spoke in a calm manner. There was no more kindness. A human without emotions. It was the typical arid voice of such people.
“They were just going to be at the bottom of society anyways. They would live like trash all their lives. Just because one is a sorcerer does not make a big difference. They would not have gone beyond the range of the 1st class level. To be treated with disdain by others and the shame that comes with that. I just simply saved them from that pit.
“What, What are you….”
“As fuels, contributing to the Ivory tower’s empire, that is.”
As the tower lord stopped speaking, he stretched out ‘the Ivory Tower’s wand’ into the empty air. Then ‘scarlet’ colored ‘life energy’ and blue ‘mana’ were extracted from the people confined in the cage and began to merge at the tip of the wand.
“Do not worry. I would not make you like them. I can promise you that”
With the tower lord’s spell, the scarlet colored life energy and blue mana, at the tip of the wand, began to turn black. Surely, that was ‘black magic’ itself, corrupting all the energy.
“You are like my son, are you not?”
Eventually, the tower lord’s black magic wrapped around Marco. There was no way to escape. Even the shield magic did not work. Rather than even slowing it down, it simply was passed through and was being absorbed directly.
Wrapped around by the black energy, Marco’s eyes began to turn black. Just like the life’s energy and mana that had lost the natural light due to corruption, they turned deep black, such that, not even a single blood vessel could be seen.
Marco resisted for a while. Meaningless struggle came to an end. However, there was still breath left in him.
From such state, Marco rose up immediately upon the tower lord’s command. It was same as Helene. There were no longer any whites in the eyes and was in absolute obedience to the tower lord. Stuffy and rough breathing were felt as well. He was reborn as the ultimate ‘pawn’.
“There is still a lot to accomplish. You should endure more.”
The tower lord’s greed did not stop there. A pawn that possesses more of the normal appearance. He needed a pawn that was nearly perfect.
‘A pawn that others will not feel discomfort with.’
That was the ultimate objective of the tower lord. A perfect pawn, except with a blind loyalty, which can be utilized in the light instead of the darkness.
“I bid you success. There is not a lot of time. So, you are being activated.”
Again, the tower lord has absorbed life energy and mana from those confined inside the metal cage. From the silence without a single scream, the second black magic has begun.
“You are like a lucky charm. The only charm that survived when the mana bomb rained on the village .”
It is different from earlier. In fact, it was complete opposite. The eyes that had turned dark black had now began to restore their whites. As if a ‘purification’ process was taking place.
Pleased with the transformation, the tower lord nodded his head. He had anticipated this situation to come true.
“Look at me.”
Marco raised his head according to the tower lord’s command. The eyes appeared to have roughly returned to normalcy, but there was not a shred of emotion.
“Who do you see me as?”
A cautious question was thrown by the tower lord.
“You are the Duke Herbert Leon, the Ivory Tower Lord of the Green River Empire.”
Marco replied in clear tone. The voice was also his natural tone. Helene had turned inarticulate and glum. His tone was completely different than that of her voice.
“Then who are you?”
“I am Marco. I am a 2nd class sorcerer of the Ivory Tower, and now I serve you, my lord, as your appointed assistant sorcerer.”
Following Marco’s reply, the tower lord threw a short sword towards him.
Then he commanded.
“Will you slice off one of your little fingers, using that sword?”
It was the tower lord’s order to self mutilate.
However, Marco did not hesitate, he had cut off his finger. It appeared as if he could not even feel the pain.
“Now, I can finally call you my son.”
It was perfect. The black magic was successful. A pawn that the tower lord wanted was finally created.
“More fuel will be needed.”
Of course, he didn’t necessarily want Marco. It was only that he wanted a powerful black magic spell, one that is complete and a more powerful technique of black magic, through which a perfect result had just been created.
“For the purpose of handling a bigger beast.”
For a much greater beast, much more fuel was needed to freely handle the beast. For Ian Page, this level of fuel was lacking. Much more human vitality and much more sorcerers’ mana are needed.
Re-edit effort by FlawFinder. But sometimes it’s hard, yo