Thanks for the Ko-fi, Winzie
༼ つ ◕‿◕ ༽つ
Roger grasped her wrist tightly, pulling her hand away as he spoke.
“Don’t worry, your master is safe. He’s resting in the first-floor reception room right now. Get ready and come downstairs.”
Upon hearing his words, Vivian quickly got up from the bed. She called Hamel, finished her preparations hastily, and descended to the first floor. Amidst the busy knights preparing to return to the Capital, she found Gray sitting comfortably on the sofa.
Gray, who had been chatting with Camilla, turned his head at the familiar voice. He soon realized that the one calling him was his only disciple and smiled wryly, chin in hand.
“You must have slept really well after making me do all the work, huh?”
“Are you not hurt? I’m sorry, I should have gone back to the forest right away…”
Gray waved his hand, taking the joke rather seriously. Instead of Gray, it was Camilla who calmed Vivian down and sat across from her.
“Is your body feeling better now?”
“Yes, thanks to your healing magic. Oh, and thank you for the purification spell as well.”
“That’s a relief.”
Listening to the conversation flowing smoothly, Gray observed Vivian with a strange gaze.
“Your elemental magic has returned, hasn’t it?”
Vivian only now noticed the ominousness in her Master’s eyes. His gaze flickered with a strange light.
“Was the method I taught you correct?”
Vivian tightly sealed her lips. But Gray, realizing that it meant affirmation, smiled even more mischievously.
“So, in the middle of all this chaos, you managed to do that?”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
Camilla, who didn’t know about the conversation between the two, asked with a bewildered expression. Vivian glared at her teacher with a flushed face, but Gray, who wasn’t about to give up his playful attitude, persisted.
Unable to help it, Vivian quickly changed the subject.
“Um, did you, uh, look at the library?”
Fortunately, Camilla seemed quite interested.
“There’s a secret space in the library. I saw the people involved in this incident going in and out of there… I thought there might be something related to dark magic.”
“No, I haven’t seen it… But it might be a good idea to check, just in case.”
The three left the reception room and headed to the second-floor library.
As if to announce their activities from the previous night, the library was in disarray. It seemed they hadn’t bothered to tidy it up since they would be leaving the mansion soon. Vivian stepped cautiously into the library, stepping over scattered pieces of paper.
She tried hard to recall what she had seen yesterday.
“Third row… tenth book, fourth row… second book, fifth row… first book.”
With a hesitant recollection, she moved her hand carefully. As she did, the bookshelf shook and split in half, revealing the narrow space she had seen the day before.
“Wow, they had such a place in the mansion?”
Gray widened his eyes, gazing at the seemingly endless secret space behind the staircase. Thanks to the evenly placed torches on the wall, going down below was not difficult. At the bottom of the stairs, there was a wooden door.
As she opened the door, an eerie sound pierced her ears.
“What on earth…”
Beyond the open door, there was a small room, but it was no ordinary room. Except for the door, an enormous number of papers, too many to count, were attached to the walls. Darkly inked runes were drawn on each paper, resembling magical symbols.
“These are scrolls.”
Ignoring Camilla’s stern warning not to touch them, she examined the scrolls herself. Eventually, she confirmed that there was no magic imbued in the papers, and she felt relieved.
Vivian, who had been staring at the scrolls intently, realized that all magical runes on the papers were the same as the ones that had appeared over the rifts before.
“These seem to be scrolls that summon rifts. I’ve seen these runes before.”
“Considering that they don’t contain any magic anymore… it looks like they’ve already been activated. These scrolls probably created all those rifts last night.”
As she spoke, Camilla gestured towards the numerous papers. Then, as if the wind had picked up, the papers attached to the wall flew towards her, stacking up in her hand. She dropped a small spark onto the pile of paper.
Taking into account the confined space, Camilla created a transparent barrier around the pile of paper, which began to emit smoke and eventually turned into ashes.
After carefully searching for any remaining scraps, the three of them left the room. To ensure they completed their task, Vivian asked if Camilla could put a protective spell on the entrance to the room, to which Camilla readily agreed. Using a short wand and various incantations, she inscribed a security spell over the door.
Seeing this scene, Vivian finally felt as though everything was truly coming to an end.
With their work finished, the three left the library and headed to the first floor. They noticed the knights gathered around, seemingly prepared to go.
“Where have you been?”
“I was in the library.”
Roger, who had just spotted Vivian, became aware of the people around her and asked politely. Vivian briefly explained what had just happened to Roger, who had been quietly listening. When she finished speaking, he raised an eyebrow.
“If there was any danger, why didn’t you tell us…?”
“Well, I thought it would be fine. We have two spirit mages and a magician with us.”
Upon hearing her response, Roger sighed deeply. He promised himself that next time something like this happened, she would have to promise to let him accompany her before he let her go.
“Master, then I’ll see you at the palace.”
Camilla had successfully completed the mission, and with unexpected assistance from Gray, the Emperor promised to reward them generously. So they were now heading to the Capital together, and Vivian said a temporary goodbye to Gray.
“Tell me what happens at the palace when you get there.”
Gray said ominously, raising an eyebrow. Afraid someone might overhear, Vivian hurriedly left the mansion.
As Vivian headed for the carriage, she noticed the Western soldiers gathered by the door and stopped. At the head of the group, Chen bowed slightly.
“You’ve been through a lot, my Lady.”
He looked up with a bitter-sweet expression. It was a mix of relief that they had finally resolved the issue in the West and sadness at their parting. Vivian smiled gently and patted his shoulder.
“Thank you, Chen. It would be nice to see you in the Capital.”
As warm words were exchanged, Chen smiled cheerfully.
After nodding to the other soldiers, Vivian boarded the carriage. While gazing longingly at the familiar mansion, Roger, who had completed his final checks, also got on the carriage.
“Let’s depart now.”
Roger’s words signaled the start of the carriage’s journey. Vivian looked out the window with a sense of longing.
* * *
It felt like someone had inserted their hand into her brain and was shaking it vigorously, causing a severe headache. Nausea accompanied the sensation. However, it was short-lived.
The swaying of the carriage, as if it would split into two at any moment, abruptly stopped. When she opened her eyes, a landscape she hadn’t seen in months filled her vision. It was the Capital square.
“I have some business to attend to, so would you mind waiting in the carriage?”
Roger opened the window connected to the driver’s seat and gave a brief instruction. The carriage eventually came to a halt, and Roger, after telling Vivian to wait for a moment, got out of the carriage.
For the first time in a long while, Vivian looked out of the window with a sense of ease. Accustomed to the dense forests and small settlements of the West, the grandeur of the Capital, filled with impressive buildings and well-dressed people, felt unfamiliar.
As she looked around, Vivian’s gaze fell between the sharp and blunt rooftops, landing on a large, white building. Inside the arched roof frame, a large golden bell was installed – it was the temple.
“The temple… it’s been such a long time.”
Vivian rested her chin on her hand, gazing at the pure white temple. She used to go there often with her father when she was younger, but she couldn’t recall much since she had grown considerably.
While she was lost in thought, Roger finished his errand and quickly returned. As he got on the carriage, it began to move again towards the palace. It was only then that Vivian took her eyes off the temple.
“What were you doing?”
“Oh, I was just looking at the temple.”
“I remember it from when I was young. I used to go there with my father quite often.”
It was a bit of an odd expression to say they were ‘visiting’ to a holy place related to religion, but Vivian had no other way to describe her visits.
“My father was quite devoted, so he used to go to the temple whenever he had time, and I used to pester him to let me come along. But people under a certain age couldn’t enter the sanctuary, so I always stayed outside. Looking back now, I’m not sure why I insisted on following my father so stubbornly.”
Leaving the mansion as a child used to be exciting. To young Vivian, the inside and outside of the mansion were completely different worlds. The mansion was comfortable and familiar, but that sense of comfort was so constant that it sometimes felt stifling and tiresome. However, the world beyond the wrought-iron gate was magnificent and full of wonders. Perhaps that’s why she was so determined to go there.
Listening to her story, Roger chuckled softly. It seemed he was imagining her as a child.
“I used to bring lunch every day and wander around the temple, waiting for my father.”
Thinking back, it was quite innocent. While Vivian reminisced and shared her memories, Roger momentarily fell silent. Soon, his gaze became peculiar.
“Yes. Ah, my mother always packed it for me, just in case I got hungry.”
It seemed strange to bring such things to a temple, so Roger was genuinely curious when he asked.
“Did you happen to wander around with the knights?”
“Huh? How did you know?”
At his strange question, Vivian widened her eyes. He was right, as if he had seen her back then.
“That’s right. My mother was so worried about me that she always had the knights follow me when I went to the temple.”
Roger stared at her intently, examining every detail of her face from her round forehead to her eyes, nose, and mouth. His gaze was relentless and hard to decipher. Faced with his persistent scrutiny, Vivian awkwardly smiled and tilted her head.
Lunch and knights guarding her.
With these two distinct clues from her hazy memories, he could vaguely guess. Looking back now, the girl from his past had the same clear, sky-blue eyes. He had longed to meet her, but he had never imagined she would be this close. Knowing the truth, he felt a sense of emptiness overwhelming him. On the other hand, his heart raced faster.
“…Coincidence or destiny?”
His murmured words were so quiet that Vivian couldn’t hear them clearly.
“What did you say?”
Vivian asked. However, Roger, his chin resting on his hand, kept his eyes fixed on her with a gaze filled with complex emotions. He closed his mouth without repeating his words.
Seeing that it must not have been something important, Vivian turned her gaze to the window. As he stared at her, Roger smiled softly. His heart, filled with the joy and excitement of rediscovering a past connection he alone knew, swelled with happiness.
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