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 Full Scale War (2)

Herbert, the tower lord, went on an unplanned holiday break.

The official explanation was ‘health issues’.

As it was an open ended holiday, the tower lord’s responsibilities have been temporarily delegated to the eldest sorcerer, ‘Deckard’, and any critical reports to the tower lord or issues requiring urgent decisions were handled through the assistant sorcerer, ‘Marco’, by him making trips to the tower lord’s residence.

 “There have been many issues for him to deal with in recent days.”

 “And his old age also played a role.”

Hearing the reason, most of the occupants of the Ivory Tower nodded.  Delegation procession was a difficult task in the first place for an old man.  Although he was in good health compared to his peers with the power of magic, it wasn’t possible to deceive for so many decades.

 “Besides, there is also the issue with Ian?”

Furthermore, the rumor of him feeling the pressure with the rise of the 6th Class Ian has swirled around as well.

The tower lord and Ian, the fact that different lords existed for the two pillars of the Ivory Tower has been a hot conversation topic.

 “Well then.  How things are turning?”

 “What, all of a sudden?”

“Are we with the crown prince or with the imperial prince?”

 “Who knows, it will be determined by the top echelon anyway.”

 “Well, you’re right, we are only nobles outside.  But in here…..”

While many such conversations were going around surrounding the two, the tower lord and Ian, Ian was sitting in his research laboratory.  For some reason, Marco was with him.

 “Is the tower lord very ill?”

Ian has been in frequent conversations with Marco, who has returned to the Ivory Tower.   It was because he was able to hear the news about his hometown of the Mogrian Region, as recent as 2 years earlier.   That has been the case at least up until not too long ago.  There was not a reason to have any suspicion as both, Ian and Marco, believed them to be enjoyable occasions.

 “Nothing to be too concerned with.”

“That’s a relief.”

However, such pleasant conversation had been cut short at some point.  It was right after the tower load had returned.  At first, it was due to the ambience of the Ivory Tower, but now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

 ‘The person itself has changed.’

Ian began to feel certain peculiar alienation from Marco.  That feeling was there at this moment as well.  The same face, the same voice, and the same tone as before, but such alienation couldn’t be hidden.   He felt suspicious from the beginning, but it has finally been confirmed.

 “If there is nothing more to say…..”

 “Please, please wait for a moment.”

Ian stopped Marco.

There was still something to verify.  Only that he needed some time to think before that.

 ‘Does he slowly want to see it through the end?”

The reason as to why the tower lord has gone on a sudden, long holiday.

It wasn’t difficult for Ian to guess.

Health concern is only an excuse.

 ‘He will surely be planning.’

To eradicate his ‘political’ rival.

Planning to find that method.

Or preparing to fine-tune the method.

Of course, the target will be Ian himself.

 ‘I can roughly envision the secret plan.’

Ian does not have any grudge against the tower lord.  No, there was nothing.  In their past lives, they served the same master, so there wasn’t any reason to go head to head.  Since he knew the true nature, the shunning was based on only from personal perspective

 ‘The situation has now changed somewhat though.’

In fact, supporting Ragnard is a very appropriate decision.  He was the optimal candidate for the kingship no matter what he had inside his mind.   So, he wanted to get it done appropriately.  Becoming ‘victorious’ against the tower lord, rather than crossing the line to cause complete ‘destruction’, was Ian’s initial plan.

 ‘Needlessly harming the family members…’

However, the tower lord had crossed the line.

He had harmed Ian’s family members, too.

The precious things that he had earned after his return.

How could he leave it at that?

He brought the wrath upon himself.

 ‘The black magic….’

Ian knows black magic.  In fact, he is considered to be on the side of those considered to be very well versed in it.   He had researched it before, as a precursor thinking that it will help in his efforts to reach higher class level.  Of course, it was not effective and as a result the level of interest dried up as expected.

 ‘It was inhumane even.’

The magic often required ‘inhumane resource’ beyond mana.  Life source or spirit, it was understandable why it had been outlawed.  But, the tower lord became involved in that magic.  Is that all?

 ‘The black magic that is able to control sorcerers means.’

Ian thought while staring at Marco.  If it was as expected, if the sense of alienation being felt from Marco is the black magic, it was possible that the tower lord may have crossed the river of no return.

 “Sir Marco.”

He put away his thoughts.

Then he quietly called Marco.

 “If I had come to a false conclusion, I respectfully apologize.”

 “Pardon?”

 “It’s not that you’re ill or anything, but it is possible to feel strange.”

“What are you getting at….”

Ian did not respond any more.

Instead, he raised the great prairie staff straight upward.

And, he quickly absorbed mana.

 There was a ‘Cancellation’ technique that is engraved in the staff.

He was about to execute an elevated magic through that spell.

 “Great Cancellation.”

Intense gray light wrapped around Marco.  The intensity was difficult to even compare to the initial cancellation.  If ‘cancellation’ spell was to remove certain supporting magic, ‘the great cancellation’ is the ‘anti-magic’ spell that will wipe out the rival’s entire magic.  

 “Aak, aaak….!”

The effect was immediate.  Marco was in pain and felt nauseated as Ian had expected.  Vomiting dark energy, Instead of rolling around in vomit, was the absolute confirmation.

 “Argh, Auuk ! A-uu-uk! Auuk! Auk….!”

Marco threw up the dark energy for a while.

He began to breathe fast as if he has just come to his senses.

His breathing was rough as if he was just been saved from drowning.

 “How are you feeling?”

 “Auk! I, I, Auk!  Now…. Why….?”

It was not the same Marco from just a moment ago.  He seemed confused.  His sweat covered face and crimson colored eyes spoke loudly as to how he was feeling.  It has already been several days that he had been in motion outside of his own volition.

 “Marco.  Please look at me.  Are you OK?”

 “I, Ian….?”

Marco finally recognized Ian.  At the same time, he was able to assess the situation a bit.  His memory has returned to the time prior to when he fell under the black magic spell and the exploding headache that he had earlier seemed to be slowly subsiding.

 “I, I think I was having a dream….”

 “I don’t think it is a dream.”

 “If it is not a dream…..”

 “It must be the tower lord’s deed.”

Marco’s countenance has hardened.   He wanted every vision to be part of a dream, the secret passage, the dark room, the people with black eyes, the cages that confined people, and the tower lord, who had absorbed the life energy out of them.  Upon hearing Ian, however, that wishful thinking was completely overturned.

 “Have to, have to stop….”

Enduring the chaos, it was Marco’s first words.

 “He has to be stopped.  Sir Ian.  The tower lord has to be stopped!”

He let out a painful scream.

It was the other side of the tower lord, whom Marco has followed all his life.

That other side has clearly been discovered.

Many words have filled his mind and reached the tip of his tongue.

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But, there was only one thing that he could say.

It must be stopped.

The tower lord’s black magic.

 “That’s what I am thinking to do.  So, please explain to me first.”

Contrary to the outpouring words of unorganized emotions from Marco,  Ian’s words seemed to indicate that much of it were anticipated as he was calm and well prepared.

 “What was seen, heard, done to.  Do not omit anything.”

***

As the Sun was setting, the official work hours at the Ivory Tower came to an end.  From this time until the morning will be dedicated to researching and practicing of magic.  If it was under the original circumstances, it would also be the time when Marco would head over to the tower lord’s residence.   It would have been the time to deliver Ivory Tower’s daily main report.

 “I will go in your place.”

However, today was different.  That’s because with the report in hand, Ian, himself, headed to the tower lord’s residence.   He had already been briefed by Marco.  The 90 percent of the report was as expected with the remaining 10 percent, appearing to be slightly out of the ordinary.

 ‘The tower lord had opened a portal?’

No way, that could not be possible.   ‘Portal magic’ that provides a conduit between the space and far away space.  

 ‘It must’ve been the artifact’s power.’

It was clearly stated that the portal was opened, using a greenish book.  Then there is only one answer.  That it is not the power of the tower lord, rather the power of the book.  It’s hard to believe that he had such an item.

 ‘Most likely, the artifact will not appear in the Ivory Tower’s artifacts list.’

It seems as though there are many things are being tightly hidden.   Leon Herbert, that is, the presiding Ivory Tower Lord.  This was the first time, becoming aware, that he had ever studied black magic.

 “Who is it?”

At last, Ian came upon a residence in the far most corner of the imperial city.  Isolated from all the boisterous traffic of the imperial city, it is the area that the tower lord had chosen for his residency, desiring a serene setting.

 “This is Ian Page, an elder sorcerer of the Ivory Tower.  I am here to pay the tower lord a wellness visit and to provide a status briefing.”

 “Ugh!”

The sentry was bewildered by Ian’s response.  It was not fathomable for a presiding sentry of the Ivory Tower to not recognize the name of Ian Page.

 “Ah, yes, please wait for a brief moment, sir?”

 “Indeed, take all the time you need.”

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