Chapter split into five(5) pages
- Full Scale War (3)
The tower lord was anticipating Ian’s visit. The main reason was because the marginal oversight that was linking him to Marco has been disengaged. Within the empire, Ian was the only one great master sorcerer, who could penetrate the black magic.
“What is your disposition, my lord?”
“Did he come alone?”
“Yes sir. At least, there wasn’t anyone nearby.”
“Then, advise him to wait for a moment.”
Although the tower lord had already confirmed that Ian was alone through detection magic, he had asked the sentry on purpose. Then he opened a portal in the den next to the bedroom.
‘You’ve finally come. Ian Page.’
It wasn’t a mistake to have kept Marco active in close proximity to Ian. Rather, it was a set plan. It can be called a ‘half inducement strategy’, to name it. He wanted Ian to become aware of Marco’s transformation and waited for him to pay a visit on his own volition. If he had come with many others, the tower lord would have hidden the medium, but since he came alone, there was no need.
‘He should be full of self-confidence.’
Ian was a 6th class grand sorcerer. There are always a numerous possibilities that the table can be turned even after a full proof preparation. To increase the odds of winning, it was necessary to shake up the ability of this 17 year old Ian to discern.
‘For the thought of taking me down.’
With the unique abilities and sharp attention, he had penetrated the tower lord’s scheme. Then rescue all the victims after defeating the tower lord, who has fallen into the black magic. What a great story it will be? He will be touted as the epic hero by not only the sorcerers, but also by the citizens for the generations to come.
‘Although it won’t be an immediate epic tale of heroics.’
The dungeon, beyond the portal, wasn’t simply a dedicated place for the purpose of studying black magic and confining humans for fuel. Beyond the steel cages was another space, which was much more spacious than thought. In fact, the space was many times bigger than the space where the steel cage was set up on.
Countless treasure chests and storage boxes.
Endless show of artifact displays.
Over flowing items of luxury.
That’s right. The dungeon was really a ‘warehouse’. It was the secret warehouse, where the tower lord has been hiding artifacts, magical items, and valuables that he had been secretly collecting.
“A few of them will no longer be useful after today.”
The tower lord murmured as he collected a few artifacts and magical equipment from the displays as if a general heading to a battlefield was putting on an armor suit and cape. Certainly, he was not an easy adversary, so the preparation was a must.
‘This is worth the investment in consideration of training a 6th class dog.’
Also, he had picked up an entire storage box and moved it closer to the steel cage. The box was full of unidentified purple gems.
The name of the purple gems was soul stone, which was used to hold human spirit that was an essential ‘ingredient’ for ‘high level black magic’. Then into the storage box, full of gemstones, the tower lord had stuck his staff. Surrounded by the steel cages, the staff stood straight up in front of them.
The staff began to react after the tower lord’s single command. Not only did it absorb the life force from the multitudes of humans from inside the steel cage and mana, it even gathered the grayish white haze from the piles of the soul stones. There were silent screams, which in no doubt, were coming from the confined spirits in the soul stones.
Immediately after the second order, everything began to turn into black color. The crimson life force, the green mana, as well as the grayish white spirits, all were being newly reborn as the sources to be used for black magic.
Then with the blackish blue gemstone that was located at the start of the mouth of the staff as the starting point, black energy has tightly aggregated. It was as if it was fully loaded and ready to call a black magic spell at any time.
Incredible amount of soul stones have been consumed. He even borrowed the powers of the artifacts. At this level, even the 6th class ranked sorcerer could not resist easily. Nodding his head as if satisfied, the tower lord left the portal open and as he returned to the bedroom thru the den, he spoke to the servant who was at ready.
“Invite the guest in.”
Sometime has passed. Ian has entered the room after waiting for a while outside the residence. The tower lord wasn’t particularly welcoming. He simply sat in his chair, allusively chanting while enjoying the tea that his servant had brought him.
“You’ve brought yourself today.”
“It is only appropriate to pay a visit when the eldest of the elders of the Ivory Tower is home ill. I beg your quick recovery.”
“Thank you for the words. Here, have a seat. The tea is wonderful.”
With that, Ian sat facing the tower lord. Soon, dreary silence overcame them. Both Ian and the tower lord simply sipped their tea, without particularly saying anything.
“Marco was not feeling very well.”
It was Ian, who had broken the silence.
There was utmost respectfulness on his part.
“Oh, I am concerned whether he is under the influence of what I fell ill with.”
“I have examined him and that does not appear to be the case.”
“That’s a relief. He is a very diligent lad.”
“Yes. That was why I am in his place, providing the daily briefing to you. Also pay a well being visit as well. Is this uncomfortable for you, sir?”
“Ha ha, how could that be? On the contrary, I am most appreciative to be receiving a well being visit by a 6th class grand sorcerer.”
As somewhat of a detailed conversation was being shared, Ian discretely surveyed the surroundings. Especially, he scanned every corner by the bookcase. He could not locate the book that Marco had described. Perhaps, it was hidden in another place.
“Are you looking for something?”
“Ah, as a matter of fact, I had heard an interesting story.”
“An interesting story?”
“It was something that Marco had told me.”
“Then please share it with this old man. I am incredibly bored, having been confined in this house for nearly a month.”
“I will. It’s actually, according to him, there exists a gateway, somewhere in your house my lord, which takes one to a secret location.”
Ian spoke as he sipped his tea once.
From that behavior, the tower lord could draw a definite conclusion.
‘He is not a replicate.’
A replicate is a fabrication with no real form.
How can it intake any food substance?
Now more relaxed, the tower lord asked a question in response.
“Secret location? What place are you referring to?”
“Well perhaps, it could be the den or the food storage room. Or a secret research laboratory.”
“A desire for a secret research laboratory will come naturally to sorcerer. If it wasn’t for the rule that research is to be done at the Ivory Tower as much as possible, I, too, would have loved to have one in my residence.”
“Do you not already have one? The research laboratory.”
In response to the words from Ian, the straight shooter.
“You are more mischievous than I thought.”
The tower lord didn’t try to put up a false impression either.
“Well, as long as we’re talking about it, would you like to have a tour?”
“Would that be possible?”
“Is there something that will prohibit it?”
“Not at all, but the black magic.”
Ian stopped speaking for a moment.
The two men’s eyes met and tangled in the air.
“However, I understood as there being a rule that prohibits it.”
“What is the reason for suddenly bringing up the topic of black magic?”
“You know it very well?”
“I am not sure what you are referring to. Are you implying that I am stirring up black magic in a research laboratory by any chance?”
“That could be a possibility.”
“That’s objectionable. I admit to a research lab. It is also true that a special door exists. It was through the power of an artifact that I had obtained by chance. However, black magic! It is not even worth mentioning at all. I simply do not understand what nonsense that Marco is speaking of.”
At least, the tower lord was strongly denying the idea of black magic.
His objective is to lure Ian into and beyond the portal, after which he will engrave the ‘control spell’ onto Ian’s spirit by using the prepared black magic.
“Is that so.”
“Of course that is so. Do you wish to verify it?”
“If you would grant that permission, I would like to do so.”
“Let’s get up. I shall show you at once. As the tower lord, I reject the idea and it gives me no pleasure of being accused of practicing black magic.”
The tower lord stood up with forceful determination. Ian also followed behind him to the den. The door connecting the bedroom and the den was open and the already created bluish portal came in to his immediate view.
“That is the gateway.”
“The color is distasteful.”
“I thought so too, initially.”
As if to demonstrate that is was safe, the tower lord quickly put forward his foot inside and beyond the portal. It was the situation as described by Marco with respect to the entire portal, spewing out of a unique book. Even Ian has never seen such an artifact before.
Only darkness lied beyond the portal. However, Ian did not prematurely use the light spell. Instead, he was securing visuals with the magic that is many levels higher than that that even the tower lord could not have imagined.
Ian’s eyes flashed in green and the darkness became familiar to him. Rather, going beyond gaining familiarity, the visuals became different. The darkness was no longer inhibiting Ian’s vision.
‘It is more serious than I thought.’
The place thought to be the dungeon beyond the portal. He had heard about the place, but after seeing it in person, he was greatly perplexed. It was unfathomable that it was real to see sorcerers and citizens being confined to be used as fuels.
‘Such person had remained as the great tower lord in the past life.’
The name, Herbert Leon, has eternally remained as one of the greatest tower lords in the history of the Ivory Tower. It was the moment that made him to feel, to the bone, the other side of the history’s mess.
“Ian, do you know by any chance?”
The tower lord’s voice coming from the darkness was shaking. The reason for that minute shaking was certainly because of ‘excitement’ and ‘anticipation’.
“I, at one time, also wanted to be a hero. A sorcerer, who protects the empire and saves its citizens in despair, all by oneself.
The tower lord spoke as he slowly walked towards the staff that was set up straight in advance. Although, he was in very close proximity of the staff, he didn’t particularly try to raise it. He only vacantly stared at it.
“Over the years, he realized one thing. Reckless behavior alone will not bring about changes. There was power out there that will make me a hero.”
With a single motion of his hand, the dark energy that was hovering over the staff began to separate like serpents as they moved in slow creepy fashion.
“My single decision has the power of moving many talents. Through that comes the true power that can assure the well beings of the empire and its citizens.”
Finally, the tower lord’s hand motion pointed towards Ian.
The dark energy also targeted Ian’s body.
“People call that energy as power.”
The dark energy spread and quickly wrapped around every parts of Ian’s body as if it was unavoidable presence of royalty. It wrapped the arms, legs, head, neck, and the body as well as the tip of his feet. It was as if black ink was dumped all over him.
Even for Ian, he could not help, but moan in agony. The black magic mixed with sufficient mana and life force, along with soul stone and many artifacts has indiscriminately shaken all of Ian. If it was an ordinary person, it would not have stopped with a moan.
Finally the tower lord has brightened up the space with light spell. He approached Ian with swaggering walk. His countenance was one that of full of ultimate satisfaction.
“Be part of that power for me. So, the empire can be protected in whole. The citizens can also be saved as a whole. The young, like you, the old, like I, ultimately all want a hero, isn’t that so?”
More and more, the black magic was being absorbed into Ian’s body. The eyes have darkened then the white color returned. As it was for Marco, Ian has fallen flat onto the ground as he slowly recovered his conscientiousness.
“Here, do rise.”
Ian’s response to the tower lord’s command was immediate.
He rose up at once and looked at the tower lord.
“Ha, ha ha ha…..!”
The tower lord went into a loud laughter.
It was filled with twisted ecstasy.
He was, after all, a 6th class grand sorcerer.
The first 6th class sorcerer in the history of humanity, that was.
Such existence has fallen to being a puppet.
Not as anyone’s, but Herbert’s own puppet.
“This was so easy. This was nothing!”
His old face was twitching, at the moment, as the devil. Perhaps, that was the true nature of ‘Herbert Leon’, the Ivory Tower’s lord.
“There answer me. Who am I?”
It was the same question that was thrown to Marco.
“You are the Duke Herbert Leon, the empire’s Ivory Tower’s lord.”
And even the reply was the same.
At least it was like that up to this point.
However, the puppet, ‘Ian Page’, has added one more answer following that. Was it because the scope of his thought was greater?
“You’re a crazy son of a bitch.”
“What? What did you just…..”
“I said, you are a crazy son of a bitch.”
It was even before the tower lord has completed his question in his response. Was that all? It was even before he had changed his countenance. It was much earlier than for him to truly understand what was being happening.
A blunt sound has echoed loudly. Ian’s choice of action was not sorcery. It was only the strong one punch with Ian’s fist, strongly hitting the old, ugly face of the tower lord.
Having been fallen on his back, the tower lord held on to his smashed nose. Trained with the help of the mana, his fist delivered much more powerful punch than ordinary hammering. His mind went beyond numb and was at the edge of being fainting.
“Hugh! Whoo….!Hugh! Whoo…!”
With the mana’s energy, the tower lord quickly recovered from the injury and his senses. He stared up into Ian’s eyes in shock. The ecstasy that filled his face has long disappeared for a while already.
“Haw, haw, how….?”