“From now on, how and what should I do?”
It was somewhat of an out of the blue moon type of question, coming from the princess.
Despite that, Ian did not seem confused.
Instead, he responded with a question in calm manner.
“Please, be more specific.”
“I am not sure where to start from……”
“Then allow me to ask questions first.”
Ian was not an obtuse man. His sensibility and intuition were considered to be outstanding. Having observed the princess Hailey since the past life, Ian could imagine a number of things based on her demeanor.
“Why did you hide it? That you were a sorcerer?”
In fact, he wasn’t curious 5 years ago, and certainly not now. He was asking only because the topic came up. He was certain that it had something to do with what she wanted to talk about, whether directly or indirectly.
Princess Hailey organized her thoughts for a minute.
Letting out a big sigh, she continued.
“…..It was a simple matter, initially. I just felt that I would need to follow the rules of the Ivory Tower once I enter it, even if I did not want to, I thought that I would simply change accordingly. I strongly believed that I wanted to, no, I could become a very powerful sorcerer in order to help my brother. It was a foolish thought, but when I realized it, it was already too late.”
As she has expressed, it was a simple, foolish reason, but Ian did not necessarily revisit that point. Has she not already come to understand it?
“If I had come clean to the Ivory Tower, it wouldn’t be just me, who would be punished for it. Those that helped me, those that could not refuse a favor from the princess would be hurt more than I. I couldn’t let that happen. Of course, I was also afraid.”
Ian could empathize with her situation. Unauthorized training of sorcery was a major, major, major crime. With her status as a princess, she would avoid harsh punishments, but those that had helped her, the sorcerers and the servants would be met with terrifying sentences.
“Therefore, there was no other option than to continue hiding it?”
“Yes. But, I have never forgotten the original objective. That is, to become a great help to my brother as a sorcerer and as I’ve started towards that goal, I kept going. That was my thinking.”
“You’ve certainly caused great inconveniences. That is to those around you.”
Princess Hailey was lost for words as she was thrown off guard with Ian’s single remark. Great-inconveniences, it was a word that she could not refute. She had realized it a very long time ago. It was just that this was the first time that she has heard it from another person.
“It is relieving to see that you realize it.”
Ian truly felt relieved. Has she denied it, or made an excuse that that was the only thing that she could have done, it was possible that his attitude towards her might have turned negative as it was the type of behaviors that he despised.
“Now that you’ve revealed the reason, please do go on. What is it that you wanted to speak of? I believe it has something to do with what you’ve just said.”
That was certainly true. Having provided a detailed response to Ian’s question and organizing her thoughts, the story that she wanted to tell became a bit clearer.
“First, I have a question that I wanted to ask you.”
“I am listening.”
“If you are to become the tower lord…..”
Ian immediately cut off the princess’ words.
There was no reason to listen further.
It was because what she wanted to ask became immediately obvious to him.
“I concur with the rule that it is a major crime to train an unauthorized sorcerer, as such is an existence that is that much dangerous and powerful. It is not a bad rule.”
It was the most likely question that she would have asked. That is, should Ian become the next tower lord and that should the princess voluntarily report herself to the new tower lord, would the tower lord reduce the punishments of those around her.
“If your intention is to continue to hide it, as promised 5 years ago, I could turn the other way. However, it is that it will be hard for me to consent to what you may want. Punishment is a rule of law that must be followed.
Ian’s position was unshakable.
And there was not even a speck of falsehood.
“…..I understand what you’re saying.”
“I knew that you would. You are an intelligent person.”
“Then, I would seek your advice this time.”
“Advice, my princess?”
This time, even Ian was not prepared.
What kind of advice would she be seeking?
Overcoming the limitation to become a 4th class?
Continuing to safely hide her identity?
Or avoiding punishment at any cost?
“When I first decided to become a sorcerer to help my brother, there was no one next to my brother. It was only my father, the king. Duke Oliver was there, but presumptuously, I thought that he was not sufficient.”
That was understandable. Not just towards Oliver, but towards all the knights, the same assessments were pervasive. Only recently the master swordsman title was given, but prior to that, no one believed knights to be on equal footings with the sorcerers.
“But things have changed now. At this time, next to my brother is, you, Ian, the great sorcerer that I always dreamed of becoming. There is also the Duke Oliver, the master swordsman of the empire. More than anything, my brother is transforming and headed in the right direction.”
Now, Ian is beginning to understand.
What the princess wanted to say.
“You’ve lost your objective, is that what you’re saying?”
“Close. There are great men next to my brother, but I, having obtained unauthorized training in sorcery, maybe becoming an obstacle in his way…..”
The concern that the princess Hailey had was not to become a higher class sorcerer or safely guard her secrets. All that she wanted was one thing. That is, the safety of her brother, the crowned prince and his smooth rise to power going forward.
“That is a simple problem.”
However, it appeared as a simple problem to Ian.
It was because a very important element was missing.
That is, of the princess.
“Please live your own life. That is the answer.”
“The safety of the crowned prince and the rise of the crowned prince to the emperorship…these are not your life, are they? They are everything that the crowned prince has to live as his own life.”
Ian continued to speak.
“Do you wish to continue to grow your sorcery skills? Then please do so. After all, from the 3rd class, it is not other people’s help that will grow and further your level. It is an issue of whether one is born with the talent or not. And if you wish, I could teach you a new breathing technique. I was planning to share it with the Ivory Tower anyway.”
Even though mana was important, from the 3rd class, what is most important is mastering the clearly more difficult technique of operational ability. Only by overcoming the innate limitations, or through improvements, it is possible to reach the level of the 4th class.
“Do you wish to live a life as an ordinary princess? Then please do so. Do enjoy your pastime and socialize with the high statured noble ladies. Many marriage proposals should, undoubtedly, come and go in your way.”
As Ian brought up the subject of marriage proposal, the princess’ face turned red. In fact, there have already been many marriage proposals. It has been that way for few years, and as she has turned twenty, it has become more frequent.
“Or if you want to go out and see the world, it is the same. Do go out. You won’t be enthroned, nor will you be a queen. You will always be a princess. Your place can also be taken care of by the other princesses. There are not any issues.”
“Have I spoken incorrectly?”
Hailey knew better than anyone that in the palace, the status of princess is not that great. But as it was the same as when she heard the words, great inconveniences, it was the first time that she has heard it outright from another person.
“Perhaps, you may be thinking that it is difficult for a woman to travel alone? As you may not have any combat experience, you may not realize that being a 3rd class sorcerer is like having a one person weapon. You will be able to destroy even a large scale alliance of thieves that may come after you. If necessary, capturing them alive is not out of the question.”
Although it will require combat experience and sorcery skills, it was certainly not an exaggeration. In fact, the comparison would be considered as being way short of the reality.
“The point, as I’ve said before, is to live your own life. You have the time, sufficient background, and the power to make it happen.”
The world is half full with those that cannot live their own lives. From that perspective, the princess can be viewed as being born with blessings. So, rather than struggling with what to do next, Ian’s point is that use the same time, enjoying the blessings that she was endowed with.
The princess did not say a word for a while.
It appears as she was in deep thoughts.
Ian did not particularly interrupt her.
He considered it a rest period while at it.
“What you mean.”
How long was the waiting?
The princess finished her thoughts.
Has she reached a satisfying decision? Her continence appeared to be at peace. She was beautiful even when she was overtaken by worries and now, she appeared as gorgeous as a blooming flower.
“Thank you. I owe you a big favor.”
“Not at all, I am just sorry that I couldn’t help you.”
“No. Rule of law must not have any exceptions.”
As if she had completely forgotten about the fact that her request has been denied, or that she did not expect it to be granted from the get go, she said her sincere thanks to Ian.
“May I now begin the investigation? I must carry out my duties…”
“Ah! Yes, of course. What do I have to do?
“You just need to stay still.”
The examination, applying great cancellation has finished in no time. There were not any effects of black magic, or existence of any side effects of nausea and vomit on the part of the princess. Was it because there was somebody watching? It appeared as if she was enduring it.
“There is nothing unusual. Thank you very much.”
With that confirmation, princess Hailey stood up from the chair. It must be that she had endured headache and nausea as she staggered. Ian held her wobbling body. Immediately, the princess’ face turned red.
“Are you alright? Should I fetch your servants?”
“No, that won’t be necessary. Thank you. Well, good bye!”
Perhaps, it was that she felt embarrassed or was in a hurry that the princess Hailey quickly exited the room. Seeing the princess leave the room, Ian let out a sigh of relief.
“Is the head following the flesh?’
Ian wasn’t all his usual, casual self. It was his face to face meeting with the princess, Hailey, who was the absolute innocent beauty, and in her prime age of twenty. Without the forty years of past life experience, it would have thrown him into a head spinning confusion from the very start of the meeting.
‘Perhaps, even more than the past life…..
There was no time to think any longer. The visitations from the royal family continued. As he was focused on the investigation for a while, any distracting thoughts have disappeared. A lot of time has passed as well. All scheduled tasks have been completed.
‘It was easier without Ragnar.’
Ragnar, the 5th prince, was the first one to be investigated after the evidence of the tower lord’s black magic was found. For him, it was because he was one of the closest persons to the tower lord. Although any effects of the black magic were not uncovered, he has decided not to come out of his quarters.
“I should slowly return…..”
He was about to exit the room, having completed his investigation. One of the palace guards that was ushering the subjects of the investigation entered the room, panting.
“What is going on?”
“The, the highness has arrived!”
It was even before that conversation has ended. Terry Greenriver, the emperor of the empire, appeared behind the palace guard. Although his hair was gray in many places, his unique expression of playfulness hasn’t been lost.
“Why are you so surprised?”
Whether Ian quickly tended to the emperor with the proper courtesy or not, the emperor simply entered with a loud laughter. That wasn’t all. He closed the door himself, and walked towards the chair in strides. Even though he was aged, his presence was different than any others.
“I am also a member of the royal family. Come to think of it, I am the one who has had private meetings with the tower lord for the longest time, am I not? One of the scopes of the authority of being the tower lord is to conduct one-on-one meetings with the emperor, when called for.”
Therefore, he was saying that he came, in person, to be investigated for black magic. Although it was not a wrong statement, it was hard to conceal his surprise from his sudden visit.
“You could have called for me….”
“Since you’ve been looking into hundreds of people, I thought I should help by not troubling you in that way. Is the palace a small place?”
The distance from the emperor’s main palace to the guest room was certainly great. However, Ian could see it without too much difficulty. He could see it from the eyes, the demeanor, and in the speech. There was something that the emperor wanted to say to him.
‘Like daughter, like father.’
As the princess Hailey showed that exact same manner and eyes, so did her father, the emperor. It was just like the father, like daughter.
“Do you have any orders to issue to your servant, my lord.”
Ian spoke first.
“Was I that obvious?”
The emperor responded as if to welcome that invitation.
Unlike the princess, he was audacious.
“Hmmm, I couldn’t help if it was too obvious. Come, seat for a minute.”
It was also the emperor that guided Ian to a chair. He was certainly different than any others. Irrespective of any conditions, he was a master at controlling the situation.
“I do wish to give you more time, but I did not realize how urgently the situation has been developing. It was hard to see how crazy that tower lord had become. So, I wish to put some order to the situation early on, is that OK with you?”
“Please issue your order, my lord.”
“5 years ago, you had at least pretended to show fear, but now you’ve become very audacious. You’ve become a 6th class sorcerer, and have achieved many accomplishments. Is it that you no longer see the need to humble yourself?”
“That is not so, my lord.”
“Ha-ha! That’s how you come across to me.”
The emperor’s words came across as being both a joke and serious. Ian’s position wasn’t too different either. What is the reason for showing humility? He was no longer the little lad that knew nothing 5 years ago. Ian, that is.
“Good. I was worried as to how to bring up this topic had you responded naively, but at least that is no longer an issue. As I am also pressed for time, I will ask you directly.”
The emperor’s attitude has turned suddenly. The light atmosphere that was with him was no longer anywhere. With hollowed eyes, he stared at Ian. The unique Greenriver’s royal family’s golden eyes were flashing.”
“What do you plan to do with my eldest son, the crowned prince?”
It was a short and clear question, but a very serious one.
Yet, there were so many meanings behind that question.
Ian replied as if he didn’t understand.
“I fail to understand what you mean by your question, my lord.”
“Yes, you did understand.”
That was true. Ian understood the question.
There was not a way that he couldn’t understand the meaning.
The issue was what to provide in his response.
What was the best way to answer?
That was, would it be even OK to respond?
‘Serve a king again?’
He didn’t feel like doing that at all.
He did not have such an intention.
Wouldn’t it be the same as the past life?
It has to be different than then.
That’s why I’ve turned back.
Nearly the 30 years of time.
‘However, the crowned prince…..’
Ian had no other choice, but to accept it.
He has grown ‘attached’.
Whether it was good or bad, everything grew on him as far as the crowned prince was concerned.
‘This was complicated.’
Whether to serve with all his might, or to kill him with a single swing of the sword, that was how ambiguous the crowned prince has become for him.
Ian fell in deep thoughts for a while.
His thoughts came together.
He decided to play a little gamble.
A sense of suffocating tension permeated the room.
The golden eyes of the emperor and the Ian’s eyes that see only good wrestled in the air.
“I have no intention of pledging my loyalty to the crowned prince.”
“No intention of pledging…loyalty?”
“Yes. My lord.”
It was certainly an unexpected response.
No intention of pledging loyalty?
Wasn’t it an overly blatant answer?
The honesty has crossed the line.
As the emperor’s lips were twitching.
Ian continued to speak.
“I intend to make him the emperor.”
“I even intend to have him become a good king.”
This time, the emperor fell into deep thoughts.
No loyalty, but make him a good king?
It was rather a conflicting statement, in itself.
However, it wasn’t just impossible either.
Therefore, he was able to understand it.
That is, as far as what Ian was saying.
It was rather an outrageous thought.
“Is anyone there?”
Nodding his head, the emperor called out for someone.
Then there came eunuchs that were standing by outside.
They carried in with them a large staff.
That was none other than the item, symbolizing the Ivory Tower’s top position.
It was the ‘staff of the tower lord’