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- The Execution (1)
“O king, my father! This is highly an inappropriate measure in any imagination. Do you intent on proceeding with the execution of the tower lord of the state of the Ivory Tower? I beg of you to please reconsider. Do you not see the loss it will bring to the empire?”
It was the 5th prince Ragnar, who was 19 years of age.
He made impassioned pleas over and over to Terry Greenriver, the emperor.
The verbal debate has been going on for several days already.
“The tower lord is a 5th class grand sorcerer. Executing him would be similar to killing tens and thousands of soldiers. No, it will be a much more serious mistake. Yes, a serious mistake!”
Ragnar desperately wanted to prevent the execution of the tower lord as the tower lord was his only ally. Fortunately, the tower lord had the ability and a reason to escape the execution. Ragnar believed that it would work if he was to persistently argue those points.
“The news of the execution will spread quickly, via the state’s media, throughout the nations as soon as the execution is carried out. Coldwood, who diligently sought our borders for a long time! Once the great prairie concedes, a path will open even to the principality of Roe! Since the most powerful sorcerer has died, since the affairs of the state became so chaotic, it will be told that the best time to carry out any plans to take any action would be right now!”
State’s power, the state, war, losses.
These were the reasons behind Ragnar’s argument. Execute the most powerful 5th class mage? That was inconceivable. It can’t ever happen! That was what was being appealed.
“He is not the most powerful sorcerer.”
The emperor cited quietly after listening for a long while.
“Isn’t the most powerful sorcerer of the Ivory Tower, Ian Page, who was the first to reach the 6th class level, in the history of man?”
That was true. There was a serious flaw in Ragnar’s argument. The tower lord was no longer the most powerful force within the empire. Hasn’t Ian Page, who is enormously stronger and will continue to get stronger, appeared as the newest force in the Greenriver Empire?
“He will soon replace the tower lord’s position. Then there shall not be any problems. No, I dare to say that the Ivory Tower will soon welcome its new golden age. Do you disagree? Pray tell me.”
Ragnar spoke immediately after hearing that question.
It did not take him even three seconds to formulate his response.
“Yes, of course. Ian Page will open a new age as the new power of the Ivory Tower from now on. However, the tower lord is also a sorcerer with decades of experience and the skills that are as powerful as Ian’s. If he was to live, and leads the Ivory Tower, together with Ian Page, the empire will soon stand as the loser of the continent.”
It was certainly not a wrong assumption. The combined tactical, strategic values of a 6th class and a 5th class sorcerers would truly be immense.
“That’s not all. The Ivory Tower will be divided into two parts between the young and capable sorcerer and the old, experienced one. What does that imply? They will contain each other.
It implies that our imperial family’s duty and the responsibility of containing the Ivory Tower will be performed within the Ivory Tower itself. How ideal would that situation be?”
That, too, was a right assessment.
Even the emperor nodded his head in agreement.
“You are correct.”
Despite agreeing to Ragnar’s point, the emperor’s mind was made up.
The tower lord has a major flaw.
“The tower lord studied black magic. If he had only studied it in passing, I may have reconsidered it….. No. No. You are right. He, just being himself, a sorcerer, brings benefits to the state. If you have requested the rights to life or death to vile criminals, I may have accepted your pleas.”
The emperor finally showed his true intentions.
What would have been done, had the tower lord requested that he needed to study black magic for the security of the state, so could you turn a blind eye or that he wanted to use atrocious criminals as sacrifices for black magic, so could you turn a blind eye? There would have been a high probability that such request would have been granted as the emperor’s first priority was the security of the state.
“However, the tower lord’s actions had crossed the line. Rather, he had gone mad for certain. He used multitudes of innocent lives of the citizens and fellow sorcerers of noble standing as sacrifices. It was told that he had done this for a very long time without a single minute of hesitation.”
“For the benefit of the state? Security of the state? Power of the state? No, none of them were what the tower lord had desired. The only purpose was to place Ian Page under his control. That was the only way to place a strong grasp on the Ivory Tower. Is that not so?”
Ragnar has lost for words right at that moment. He knew that it was a clear truth and a heavy crime that cannot be forgiven. Despite that fact, Ragnar had to dig deep and find it. That is, the words that he could say, the reason that could save the tower lord.
“But the tower lord has greater stature than that of a great feudal lord. He is in the position that is as good as the 2nd to the throne of the empire. How can he be executed just for harming those peasants that are of humble standings? Would you execute an imperial family member just because he has killed a servant girl? Would you execute a nobleman because he has killed a lowly peasant?”
It was Ragnar’s argument that had completely missed the mark.
His argument lacked ‘guidance’.
It is because the situation has turned grave.
“Ragnar, that is your problem.”
“That is the reason that I cannot choose you as my successor.”
With this sudden revelation, Ragnar became dumb as if a cat got his tongue. We are talking about the tower lord right now. However, why the sudden implication of succession?
“Ragnar, I know of your thoughts, know of your ambition, and know of your nature. You are indeed intelligent and smart. You have a great political sense and even have the force to draw people to you. I know better than anyone, why the multitudes refer you as a saint fit for a king.”
This was surely a compliment.
That is, as good a compliment as that which cannot be matched.
It was as if he was being showered with gold dust.
However, Ragnar had failed to smile.
He knew that it was not a compliment.
“There is one most important thing that you lack. I assume that you know it very well yourself. You hide that blemish very well, but fail to keep it hidden when pressure critically builds up. Just like now.”
That was Ragnar’s deathly flaw.
That was none other than the ‘loss of emotions’. The concept of ‘conscience’ did not exist with Ragnar. He lacked compassion for those poor souls, and he treats every human being as a ‘tool’ to be used for his own success. The emperor knew and assessed Ragnar’s nature very accurately. He has been for a very long time.
“Of course, it is possible to have your flaws appear as strengths. As there will be many important matters to deal with, it is necessary for an emperor to address them logically.”
“However, then why…..”
“Logical decisions can be delegated to a loyal servant.”
The emperor continued after a brief pause.
“Loyal servants are tools of the state’s affairs. Those, which feed on the people of the state and wield power, are the best ones to be using as tools. However, emperor is not like that. The one that rises to be an emperor is like being a father to the multitudes of citizens. Parents are the only people that can make choices based on emotional burden.”
For those matters, requiring logical and cool-headed decisions, an emperor can heed to the opinions of the loyal servants, and even entrust that power to them. However, at the most decisive moment, at which time to take the side of the citizens despite any potential losses to the state, only the emperor can make those choices and it is the emperor’s unique right and prerogative.
Ragnar kept quiet after hearing the emperor’s words. He could understand the words and the meaning of what the emperor was saying. He is smart. It is possible that he had already known it as well as understood it.
He burst in to laughter.
It was a quiet and subdued ridiculing.
“No. I beg to differ.”
“What is that?”
The emperor’s eye brows rose at the impious tone.
“My elder brother was the son, who was born of the womb of the woman that you, o king, my father, loved very much. But what about me! Am I not the son you’ve given birth to in order to attain the powers of the great aristocrats as well? Perhaps, that is the difference!”
“O king, my father, what more excuses do you need? Admit it. You have to admit it. That is the truth, isn’t it?”
Unable to contain his anger, the emperor raised his right hand high. He was about to slap the cheek of Ragnar and in reaction, Ragnar closed his eyes tightly. And he acutely raised the ends of his lips.
But the emperor’s hand did not move. He just let out grievous sighs through his lips.
After shaking his head, the emperor left Ragnar’s room. Concurrently, he issued an order to ‘Dimple Moret’, the captain of the first royal knights.
“Dimple, you shall guard Ragnar’s living quarters yourself. Ensure that he does not leave his room. You must ensure that no one makes contact with him. Have you understood my orders?”
Upon receiving that order, Moret took on the knight’s manner. There was an aura of an old knight’s strong will, cultivated by decades of tough experiences.
“Your order is my command.”
* * *
The scheduled public execution of Herbert Leon, the tower lord of the Ivory Tower was at hand.
That important event was going to take place in the central square. The noble family members and the citizens of the imperial city as well as those living nearby came in droves to watch the tower lord’s execution.
“Is it true that the man so called the tower lord is actually going to be executed?”
“You know it very well too? You know the Full Moon Inn over there? The Inn’s owner’s daughter had also been captured by the tower lord! He was studying this bullshit black magic or something and turned people into corpses?”
The gathered crowds numbered over five thousand and in anticipation for some unknown emergencies, Ivory Tower’s sorcerers and the knights as well as the imperial army were widely dispatched. Their mission was to provide security details to the royal families, and surveillance as well as control of the crowd.
“Huh, what an insane bastard?”
“What an insane bastard. He is an insane, old bastard.”
“But then how were they able to capture that old man? What’d they say…. the 5 class? Isn’t he the 5 class sorcerer? With that level of sorcery, he would fly high into the sky and can burrow deep down into the ground! Wouldn’t he have caused panic and chaos throughout?”
Yet, surveillance and control weren’t easy to do. It was because great many more people showed up than had anticipated. To ordinary people, sorcerers are mystic existences. And of such mystic individuals, one of the top dogs is going to be publicly executed. To put it into a context, perhaps, this event would bring about people’s interest to the level that will occur only once in several hundred years of the state’s history.
“Well, as far as what I’ve heard, he is the youngest among the high ranking sorcerers…..”
“Our boss has captured him!”
A young lad squeezed through a crowd of spectators. It was Douglas, the empire’s most talented alchemist, who still called Ian his ‘boss’. He also came all the way here to watch the tower lord’s execution.
“Our boss is none other than the Duke Ian Page, the youngest high ranking sorcerer! Ah, right now, he is the strongest within the Ivory Tower. I think 6th class is what they said? At any rate, our boss has captured the mad tower lord! He has also saved the people – I’m saying that is what this is all about? Isn’t this fantastic?”
As if to be praising himself, Douglas pounded on his own chest hard. It was a show of overflowing self pride.
“Already at such a young age…..”
Several people nodded their heads in response to Douglas’s round of praises. They have already heard about the rumors regarding the sorcerer named, Ian Page, for a few years. Even if they didn’t want to hear or know about the greatness associated with that name, wasn’t it an impossible task?
It was at that moment.
The grand sound of the trumpets was heard.
“The emperor shall arrive shortly! Pay your respect to the emperor!”
Mana filled voices of the sorcerers resonated loudly throughout the square. This caused everyone in the boisterous crowd to instantly kneel to the ground. Was that all? The square that was filled with noise, instantly went silent.
Impressed at this instantaneous change, Douglas knelt onto his knees. He renewed the feeling, to the bones, with respect to the power and awesomeness of the emperor’s status.
‘Our boss would accompany him? Come with the emperor, that is.’
Douglas raised his head up high. He raised his upper body a bit as well in his efforts to see his boss, Ian, who was to make his entrance along the side of the emperor.
With another sound of the trumpets, a number of people appeared through a separate reserved pathway. The emperor, Terry Greenriver with gray hair, showing his passage into the silver years, the 1st royal knights that provide his security details, and Ian, along with all the high ranking sorcerers of the Ivory Tower appeared.
‘Ah! It’s the boss!’
The crowned prince, the prince, princess, or the other royal family members weren’t there. Only the emperor was to attend the execution of the tower lord among the royals. It was none other than the emperor, who has decided that that would be the way.
“His majesty, the emperor! His royal entrance!”
With the outpouring shouts of the many soldiers and sorcerers, the emperor made his way to the reserved seat. The sorcerers and the knights surrounded him for an impenetrable security wall. It was even more complete with the presence of Ian. Should there be thousands of assassins, going after the emperor, they would not be able to penetrate that security wall.
Boom-! Boom-! Boom-! Boom-! Boom-!
This time, rather than the trumpet sound, a booming sound of the drums was heard, signaling the entrance of the condemned. At the same time, from the passage way from the other side, there appeared Herbert Leon, the tower lord, being pulled and wearing worn prison garment.
“You, you devilish bastard!”
It was at that moment that a spectator shouted as he threw a stone at the tower lord. It was ‘Full Moon Song’ Inn’s owner, the father of the girl that had been kept in imprisonment as the energy source of the black magic for many years.
“You will see! I will find your corpse and will tear it apart into pieces! As much as my daughter has suffered! A hundred fold! A thousand fold! I will pay you back!”
A father’s wrath has aroused the people nearby. Every person picked up a stone and threw at the tower lord. The sorcerers, who were in charge of the safe delivery of the condemned, used shield the magic to only protect the soldiers and themselves, leaving the tower lord exposed to vulnerability.
A stone hit smack in the middle of the tower lord’s head. He staggered, but did not show any response. No, he couldn’t do anything. That’s because Ian had made him an imbecile.
“You garbage, bastard!”
“Worse than a dog!”
As the spectators’ anger grew and spread like wildfire, the soldiers and the knights began to subdue them. If it was to lead to a violent demonstration, it will cause an unbearable situation. Therefore, appropriate level of response was warranted.
As the first wave of the crowd’s anger died down, the tower lord appeared on the platform of the execution stage. The tower lord has received execution order by hanging. It was the sentence chosen after careful considerations of applicability among several execution methods such as poison drink, drowning, and hanging.
“Condemned Herbert Leon’s heinous, deplorable crimes see no limit.”
Rising from his seat, the emperor, himself, began to detail the tower lord’s crimes. It was usually carried out by administrators, but the emperor took that task himself this time. The reasons certainly warranted it, along with the level of wraths that he carried.
“You have forsaken the responsibility of the state as the tower lord of the Ivory Tower and indulged in the evil black magic. In addition, you have cruelly exploited the lives and spirits of the people and the peer sorcerers as its energy source. The gravest crime of the gravest crimes that you have committed cannot be washed away even with your passing! Therefore, I sentence Herbert Leon to death.”
As those words were being spoken, the soldiers held on to the noose.
It was to place it around the tower lord’s neck.
‘That name shall be passed down to eternity as the worst evil criminal in the empire’s history, and if there should be any hidden descendants or accomplices in the black magic, I, as the first spring of the Emerald River, declare and swear to find them and uproot their existence.”
The proclamation of the emperor has ended.
The executioner of the tower lord was ready also.
Now, the emperor’s single order, his minute motion of his hand, will signify the end of Herbert Leon, the tower lord of the Ivory Tower.
Along with everything that he had built will end.
“Carry out the sentence!”