- Final Decision (1)
Following the execution of Herbert, the tower lord, Ragnar’s confinement sentencing to his sleeping quarters was lifted in time. ‘Dumpil Moret’, the old knight, who has been commissioned to enforce the confinement order, has entered the room to notify of the lifting.
“My lord, your highness!”
Ragnar’s room was extremely dark. Along with having all the curtains closed, light was purposefully blocked off in order to facilitate sleeping by using ‘light shutting Mado engineered products’.
“Has the execution been carried out? The tower lord’s”
“Yes. It has been carried out.”
Was it because Ragnar’s voice was so heavy… The old knight, Dumpil, was lost for words for the time being. A multitude of emotions were heard through his inner voices- wrath, sense of loss, confusion and even feeling of abandonment. However, missing there was any sense of sadness or sympathy.
“I heard you, please leave.”
“Please do not grieve too much.”
“Ha-ha….. Do not grieve?”
It was an extremely ceremonial expression. Ragnar could only give an empty laughter because he also thought it to be so. However, Dumpil’s actions weren’t like that. He placed a piece of paper on the top of the table. It was a carefully folded note. He even lit up a candle, so that it could be read.
“What is that?”
Ragnar asked as he grew wary.
The old knight, Dumpil, replied in a quiet voice.
“Then I shall leave now.”
There was not another mention of the note to the end.
After bowing, he simply exited the room.
Ragnar opened the note after seeing Dumpil leave the room. The content was not that long. None the less, Ragnar kept reading. He read, reread, and read again. The note that Dumpil had left did warrant such an attention.
After Ragnar kept regurgitating what the note said for a while, he burned it using the candle fire.
“There was a chance?”
The burning fire illuminated Ragnar’s smile.
It was a smile full of desire than at any time before.
* * *
Greenriver Empire carried out focused investigation on the black magic and placed great attention to security. Especially, every individual inside the palace was the subject of the focused investigation. Weren’t they the heart of the empire? The multitudes of servants for starters, the knights as well as the sorcerers of the palace, and even the royal family of the noble bloodlines must all be equally ‘investigated’.
Of course, the person in charge was Ian. As it was the most stringent investigation, it was only appropriate that the most able sorcerer was conducting it. Only that Ian’s physical stamina was being challenged.
“Jeez, I should make sure to nurture a brilliant apprentice or something.”
Ian murmured as if to complain as he was conducting the investigations on the hundreds of people within the palace, all by himself. That was only logical. Ian was the only sorcerer that was able to wield the ‘great cancellation’ spell in the first place. He thought of the expression, ‘force majeure’.
‘Even the Fairy Queen was not too useful.’
That was what he had intended to do. He wanted to utilize the eyes of the Fairy Queen’, the eyes that can see magi during this broad investigation. To conclude, it was simply a great failure.
‘Magi can be more ambiguous than it was thought to be.’
All that Ian wanted was only one thing, the ‘energy of black magic’. However, the ‘magi’ that the Fairy Queen could see was much more diverse. That is, not just the black magic, but innate evil, immediate murderous thoughts, various diseases, and other similarly negative elements would all be placed in the same bucket as ‘magi’. For instance, let’s pretend that the Fairy Queen comes face to face with Ragnar, who is full of dark thoughts. It will be obvious that the Fairy Queen would go berserk, claiming that magi is overflowing.
‘It will only add confusion to it all.’
Ultimately, there was only one way.
Ian would have to take on the task himself.
‘At any rate, it will only be for a short time.’
He could see the end of the prolonged, exhausting investigation into black magic. What remained now were the royal families. From the crowned prince to the princes, concubines and the princesses, once they are investigated, his work will be finished. Ian felt a relief and his mind became calm.
Then he heard knocks on the door.
It was time for the royal family to be investigated.
Ian combined his hair as he responded.
Soon the door of the palace guest quarter that was being used as the interrogation room for few days has opened wide. It was the crowned prince, Hayden Greenriver, who entered the room to be the first royal member to be investigated.
“Your Highness, crowned prince.”
As Ian met him extending his courtesy, the crowned prince responded with a smile. He has always smiled whenever he ran into Ian, but the smiling has gotten more purposeful recently.
“I heard you’ve been very busy lately? It is difficult to see you these days.”
“I beg your pardon, my lord.”
“Not something to be pardoned over. I also know why you’ve been so busy. Hence, I came to pay you a visit, in person like this, to be investigated on the black magic and to see you, my boy, as well. They refer to things like this as killing two birds with a single, single, single…..”
“It is a single stone, my lord.”
“Ah, right! Killing two birds with a single stone! I was about to think of it. Cough!”
The crowned prince let out an empty cough as he sat into a chair.
He was the same person today as he was 5 years ago.
Although he has gotten much better now as opposed to back then….
Ian was observing the never changing appearance of the crowned prince.
Suddenly, a thought passed by in his head.
‘….. Could it be?”
The crowned prince was certainly born with a great bloodline.
Although it was a simple memorization, there was a touch of talent as well.
However, how can he permeate the notion of being such a simple person?
Not even being average, but below that?
‘It could be the effect of black magic.’
What if the dullness that the crowned prince had demonstrated so far was the effect of black magic? The possibility was not that low. It was actually much higher. The tower lord had devised many plans to enthrone Ragnar. The crowned prince was clearly an obstacle for his plan. What better and safer way would be there than making him sufficiently dumb?
“My lord, let’s get started.”
There was no reason to dwell on it any longer.
He dove right into the main topic.
It was an issue, warranting a quick examination.
“Already? Well, OK. What do I need to do?”
“My lord, you just need to stay calm. However, you may feel a bit nauseated or get a headache. Please note that it does not mean any problem, so please endure it.”
“It sounds like nothing. Do begin.”
The crowned prince chanted solemnly on purpose.
Ian pointed his staff.
He even felt butterflies in his stomach.
It was the opportunity to discover the truth, the truth that he didn’t know about in his past life.
At last, a clear gray light wrapped around the crowned prince. If the crowned prince was indeed under the spell of black magic, he would certainly vomit dark energy like all the other victims.
The crowned prince began to get sick. Was it the precursor to vomiting dark energy? Or was it just the side effect of the cancellation spell, causing nausea and headache?
Ian’s eyes shined brightly.
The dark energy!
Vomit the energy of black magic!
Ian murmured internally.
It was as if he was reciting a spell.
“Auuugh, you were right. Feeling headache and nauseated.”
However, Ian’s heightened anticipation ended with it, only being a delusion. As if he had skipped breakfast, the crowned prince just kept swallowing back the reverting stomach acid, but not even a small sign of black magic.
“Pugh! Ptooey! Augh, is it over? Anything else?”
After washing his mouth with water from a pre-prepared container, the crowned prince stared at Ian. Although he was sickened with nausea, he appeared so innocent and with age, it seemed that the only thing that matured was his appearance.
‘…..Was he born, dumb.’
That was right. Unless the black magic was more powerful than the ‘great cancellation’ spell, it was certain that the crowned prince was ‘born a dummy’. Rather than the emperor’s and the queen’s brains, it appears as if he has only inherited their physical attributes, inheriting even the humanly character.
‘What have I expected…..’
Although he was full of anticipation for a while, Ian was now feeling stupid. He even thought tired due to non-stopping investigation. That must be true. Otherwise, how could he have been this delusional.
“Yes, there is not any problem, my lord.”
Ian answered, firming up his belief.
Should he not finish the work that he’s started?
“I’m relieved. I mean, it should be obvious after all. I shouldn’t even have any time to be mocked by black magic? I have two pillars, Oliver, the master swordsman and you, who will soon be the tower lord of the Ivory Tower. Ha-ha!”
The crowned prince, Hayden, was making idle remarks.
Then he stood up as he tapped Ian’s shoulder.
“Carry on then. We shall see again, later.”
He left the room immediately. In normal times, he would have kept talking, but it seemed as if though he grew some sensibility. He even saw the exhaustion in Ian’s countenance and that he still had work to do.
‘Well, that is more fitting, I suppose.’
Ian thought after observing Hayden. He has certainly changed for sure. Although the change came about slowly at the pace of a turtle, the crowned prince certainly improved and even tried to improve himself.
‘Sudden change would be a strange thing, anyway.’
For instance, imagine the crowned prince changing like Ragnar. Wouldn’t that be a bigger problem? The current situation is much better. It is truly much better.
As Ian was finishing his thoughts on the crowned prince, another knock came at the door. There were still a lot of royal family members that needed to be investigated. There was a long way to go still.
The next royal family member that came in after the crowned prince was a familiar face to Ian. It was none other than the sister of the crowned prince, the princess, ‘Hailey Greenriver’, who is known for her beauty.
“It has been a while, sir. Ian.”
It was the princess, Hailey, who was already known for her beauty in her past life. It has been a while since he met her last, face to face. As the crowned prince’s physical appearance has been maturing, so has Hailey’s, who has turned twenty this year.
‘These siblings are such…..’
It was not enough for the crowned prince and the princess to have inherited outstanding physiques, but that they even improved upon it. Their beauty matched that of the Fairy Queen that turned into a woman. However, ambiences were the only difference. If the Fairy Queen represents physical and seductive beauty, the princess Hailey represented innocence itself.
“Your Highness, my princess. How have you been doing?”
“It was all due to your concern that I’ve been doing well.”
The princess’ words weren’t empty at all. From pretending to not see her as a sorcerer to leading her brother, the crowned prince, to the right path, and rescuing multitudes of people from the terrible black magic of the tower lord… As an individual and as a princess of a sovereign nation, she was widely viewed as being justifiably good.
“I am glad. Please take a seat.”
With a smile, Ian led her to a chair.
Ian knew that by simply looking into her eyes, she seemed to want to talk about something.
Investigation is only a means to a conversation.
Was it because her mind was read by Ian?
The princess Hailey’s cheeks turned rosy.
It was the ‘silence’ spell that cuts off all noise from around and even prevents any sound from traveling outward. The princess Hailey has put the 2nd class spell by herself.
“Have you reached the 2nd class, my princess?”
She opened her hand bashfully.
He counted total of 3 open fingers.
Not two, but three.
“The 3rd class?”
“My, my teacher told me so…..”
She was referring to ‘Kevin’, who was the 1st class sorcerer of the palace and her teacher. Although he was a 1st class, he was well learned and as a formal sorcerer, he was able to view the Ivory Tower’s information. In other words, he had clear view and understanding of how classes are categorized.
“Congratulations. I have not imagined it to be that far.”
Ian was truthful. The 3rd class implies rather a high level, even among the sorcerers. Also, did not the princess learn in secret and start the training late? However, all of a sudden, she is a 3rd class sorcerer?
‘Perhaps, she had well endowed talent?’
Ian’s original assessment that she wouldn’t even reach beyond the 1st class has certainly been way off. No, perhaps, she may go beyond that, although there would be a limit.
“I do not believe that you came to tout about you reaching the 3rd class. What is it that you wanted to discuss?”
Ian asked interlocking both his hands.
After a brief hesitation, she slowly began to speak.
“From now on, what, what and how should I do…?”