Once I was done discussing matters with everyone – at least for the time being – I went out to visit my oh-so-dearly missed alma mater, the Magic University.
By sneaking in, of course.
“Bah, just my luck… Im pretty damn busy, you know.
What do you want”
Irene, although sounding like that, still let me into her office.
“Besides… do you have any idea what time it is”
“You can count on me! …The time is three oclock, fifteen minutes, twenty-seven seconds… twenty-eight, twenty-nine-“
“Thats was a rhetorical question!”
“Hahaha… so, what happened to your arcane energy, maam Quite different from before, isnt it”
“Heh… I knew youd notice.”
For one, the sheer volume of her energy was far greater than what shed had the last time Id seen her.
Moreover, the balance of its distribution… Oh yeah, Fuyu did mention that Irene had gone to Regalia recently.
The Royal Capital… aha, I see… Lets mess with her a bit.
“How was your trip to the east Nice guy, wasnt he”
“…You could tell”
“Yes, just now.”
Answering her with a broad grin, my face was met with a stinging impact not a moment later.
“Get used to it.
That was for your mentor.
Some Philosopher that guy is! Gah, Im getting annoyed just from recalling him!”
Seeing Irene puff up with annoyance as she folded her arms, and in turn reminded of my past self, I cracked a wry smile.
“-Ahaha… nothing at all.
Er, so How much training with Tūs did you manage to get in”
“Quite a lot, actually.
At first it was all physical training, but halfway through we started duking it out until we were both out of MP.”
“What! Seriously It took me a whole year to get to do that!”
“Hmph, so THAT was what youd talked about before Figures…”
Irene said, casually sneaking in her usual brand of boasting in her tone.
Damn it… dont tell me shed managed to get some hits in as well.
Itd taken me almost the whole two years there to get up to that level.
No way, she couldnt have… the again, this is Irene were talking about… yeah, its definitely possible.
Pochi did say at one point that Ive got good eyes when it comes to observing other people – not so much for evaluating myself, but I digress.
Point is, if thats what I thought, then Im sure it was right.
Feeling an unidentifiable mix of emotions, I heaved a deep sigh.
Irene, on the other hand, sat down and put on a stern face as she looked at me.
“Oh, I bet it has.”
And why is she glaring at me so hard
“Uh, are you angry, or something”
“Oh, you bet I am.”
Shes definitely irritated.
Gonna explode any second now-
“Enough with the nonsense! Just get down to business and be on your way!”
“WHAT! Didnt you say that I needed to talk more nicely!”
“I dont even remember saying that anymore! Look, youre here to talk about Idéa and Midors, right!”
Thats exactly it.”
For a second there, I wondered if Irene was actually pretty nice despite how… aggressive… she came off as.
Oh, looks like shes finally stopped fuming.
Still… I see shes having quite a hard time keeping her feet on the floor.
Would have been so much easier if shed only gotten herself a low chair.
“Anyway, its nothing complicated.
Us Six Archmages do need to investigate past students profiles sometimes, so were authorized to enter the archives for those important doc.u.ments and the like.
I only tampered with their contract papers a bit…”
“I see… But arent you under the contracts effects as well How did you even pull it off-“
“Oh, come to think of it, I dont think Ive ever told you about… that.
Just think it over, will you You do know what year this is, right”
“Its year Ninety-Four… why”
“The Magic University didnt have this sort of contract when you were here five thousand years ago, did it Did you even know when it started being a thing”
“Wait… are you saying that its been introduced only recently”
Its like she was tired of me not being entirely on the same page as her.
What did I even do this time
“Only recently… yeah, right.
But unless youre some random fool whos lived for five thousand years, five thousand days can be quite a long time.”
Irene was ranting on so hard, I could practically see her spit fly.
I see that shes quite jealous of those who had taken the Drop of Eternity… Especially when shed gotten to meet yet another one of the – namely Tūs.
So, five thousand days, huh…
“That means… about fourteen years ago”
And do you know how old I am -Wait, you dont have to answer that.”
“You never told me, so I wouldnt know that, would I”
So heres the story… The previous War Demon Emperor, Sagan, passed away fifteen years ago.
Vaas, even though he was a lineal descendant of Sagans, was still far too young at the time.
The Nation was in for a large-scale rebuilding at the time, so things would get real hairy if a civil war was to break out.
Sagan, despite ruling into his elderly years, had been that important of a pillar that held the Nation together, you see.
So to make sure that no more forces of opposition arise, the contract was created.
The one who did it was Ishtar of the Black, who was quite a distinguished member of the Six Braves back then.”
Back when Tzar had brought it up, Id talked to the serpent a bit more afterwards, and hed told me that Sagan was quite a wise man.
Hmm, Id like to meet the guy at least once, honestly.
Still, Id never thought Vaas time in the office was this short.
If he wasfar too young fifteen years ago, then he should still be young right now as well.
Oh, I see.
Makes sense that hed be called a Puppet Monarch.
“In short, the Black and White Chain Contract has been around for only fourteen years.
Those whod graduated before then never had to sign it.”
This means… the Dilvilkin might have already known by then when the Devil King would be back.
Gramps had told me that the Fetal Stage would be starting up four years from now.
The resurrection itself would then follow in a few years.
If the Devilkin had already known THAT so far ahead, then their strategy must have been meticulously formulated.
Theyd have control over warriors and mages from fifteen to fifty years old by the time the Devil King is back.
Its good and all that people like Irene and Gaston arent bound by this issue, but-
“This is… pretty troublesome.”
“Hmm What is”
Irene asked, oblivious as to what Id meant.
Id intended to tell her all the stuff anyway, so no problems there.
Sooner or later, Ill have to explain to Irene the whole deal with the Devil Kings Fetal Stage, and also the Devilkin worship issue, just as Id talked to Gaston before.
So I might as well do it now, but… I better brace myself for another one of her raging fits…
Turns out she hadnt taken any offense with that.
Irene had actually kept her mouth shut and listened to my story.
Although Id felt some sense of impatience from her, she hadnt been all that shocked by the reveal.
I hadnt been able to tell whether the serious face shed put on had any deeper meaning, but in the end, Id left her office after promising to talk about it in greater detail at a later date.
I circled behind the Central School Building, and then jumped the wall.
Years ago, Id had to kick off the walls and get boosted along by Pochi, but now, I could make the jump by myself with ease.
All right – Ive got big stuff coming up tomorrow and beyond! Get hyped, me!
Just when I was about to cross the wall to the other side, a sharp gust of wind blew past the top of my head.
Quite well-controlled, that one.
It didnt make any loud sound, and its size had been calculated to not make any dent on the wall and the school building.
Truly an awesome display of skill.
From its appearance, I could tell that it was the elementary-level, non-lethal magic spell, Wind.
Althoughhe wasnt trying to kill me with that, it still was quite an aggressive way to say hi.
“Do you need something, Headmaster Tangalán, sir”
“I should be the one asking you… Asley.”
Tangalán the Meteor Battlemage, the current Magic University Headmaster, emerged from the dark of… very early morning.
Okay, Id never expected him to be on patrol now, of all times.
Or had I been detected when I came in …No, I wouldve noticed his presence if that was the case.
“Id never thought you would remember me, sir, with me being here for less than a year.”
“I dont know whether you are the kind to act humble or simply a fool, but I must remind you that you did havethat incident to your name.
My nerves havent gone dull just yet, Ill have you know.”
Seriously, I think its supposed to be quite rare for a headmaster to be walking around the school at this hour.
Still, the way this conversation is going… it reminds me of Warren, somehow.
Its nasty – like Ill still be messed with even if I play my cards right.
“Surely you arent surprised to see me alive, sir”
“I am surprised.
Just… by how much you have changed.”
He was referring to my body, I assume.
But why would he not be surprised by my presence, what with how I wasnt even supposed to be here at all
“Hmph, I see you are the latter kind.
The town security is clearly aware of your survival, mind you.
Have you ever stopped to count how many quests you have taken over the past two months Only the most foolish of fools would not realize that something was wrong.”
“I see, I see.
Then why didnt the security guards go to get me at my place again”
“Its more convenient to let you staydead, thats all.
Make the wrong moves, and the people would know that yoursuicide merely ended in your escape.”
He had a point there.
If word got out, the town security would find itself under pressure from the Nation.
Makes sense that theyd try and avoid that.
“Now, I believe Ive given you adequate answers.
How about you tell me yourstory, hmm”
With how sharp his glare was, Id think he was trying to stab me with it.
It seemed that he was suspicious of something… Could it be about the things Id just told Irene Ill just pretend to misinterpret his point, and then go from there.
“Nothing special, sir.
I swear Im not plotting anything.
This place just happened to be in the way of my early morning walk.”
“Hmph, paid a visit to Archmage Irenes office, have you”
He knew THAT, too Wait, no, chances are he was just bluffing.
Lets see if I can misdirect him…
“Well, I used to sometimes, but that doesnt mean I went there today, sir.”
“Oh Then whatever were you even here for”
All right, he took the bait.
Turns out hed actually been bluffing.
Close call for me there.
And now is a good time to change the subject.
Lets end it by sprinkling some truths here and there while I make my escape.
“One of my pupils had started her school year yesterday, sir… So I thought Id greet her one last time before she moved on to a long boarding school life… and stuff.”
“One of your… pupils.
Ill remember that.
What is her name”
“Oh, that Id rather not say, sir.
Id hate for her to receive unfair treatment in either way.”
Are you sure that is all”
“But of course.”
Although the look in his eyes didnt change that much, it seemed that he was inclined to understand what Id said.
Still got that pressure about him though.
If I was still as strong as Id been when Id first left my cave, I probably would have run away with my tail between my legs.
I do still want to run away just about now, though.
Back to my room, throw my head on that Pochi pillow… Dont even care how much Pochi will jeer at me – I just wanna do it.
And may you never return… Did I make myself clear”
“Im afraid I cant make any promises, sir.”
“Hmph, I spy with my little eyes a foolish raccoon.
“…Good night, sir.”
I could feel his keen eyes constantly on me until I was on the other side of the wall.
This was the first time Id ever been remotely close to the Magic University Headmaster… but now I have some idea why hes such a big deal.
And I must say… that was scary as all hell.