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“10 Shadow Lunar eyes, 1 liter of Firescale dust…” Eruan Arite recited a list of strange items in a deep monotone voice.
After reading out the list, his emotionless purple eyes looked towards the two standing in front of his desk. “What is this? An alchemic recipe?”
Zerel Reysic stifled a giggle. Who says Eri has no sense of humor? He obviously knows it is a damage report, but he still pretends to be ignorant.
Unlike Zerel, who seemed to be highly amused, Deora Thayn didn’t pick up on the humor. He was biting his lips, and his eyes were red, as if on the brink of shedding tears.
“It…it’s…” Deora stammered. “…a dam…damage report.”
Eruan’s calm eyes landed on Deora’s trembling form.
“But it isn’t my fault!! I was well-behaved this time! I didn’t do anything wrong!” Deora proceeded to explain.
Eruan Arite listened patiently until the end of the explanation. And then, in a calm voice, as if all of this wasn’t even related to him, he spoke out: “You have caused me quite a bit of trouble this time. Peacekeepers had barged in claiming they’ve received a murder report. I had to pull a few strings so that the tomorrow’s issue of the Sibyl wouldn’t post an article about the so-called murder.”
His emotionless purple eyes bore down onto Deora.
“Worst of all, a considerable number of examinees have missed their exam timeslots because they were too busy running away from the scene.”
Eruan Arite closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. “I even received a report from the infirmary that an examinee had been found unconscious in the courtyard with a large b.u.mp on his head.”
He opened his eyes again and stared meaningfully at the two. “Good thing that the renegade cube didn’t cause any head trauma. Not to say that the experience wasn’t traumatic for the boy. While he laid unconscious, he ended up missing the written exams.”
Deora opened his mouth a few times but didn’t know what to say. He did hear a strange thump after the cube shot out of the building. Perhaps he should have told someone about it? Maybe if he had done so, they could have healed the poor sod in time for the exams?
Suddenly, Deora felt extremely guilty about the matter. Which was preposterous, since he was completely innocent! It was all the fault of that jinx!
After staring at Deora and Zerel meaningfully for several seconds, Eruan Arite sighed and opened the first drawer of his desk, then he picked up the paper on top of the drawer.
When Deora saw the paper, he started panicking. “Noooooo… don’t deduct my pay! It’s not my fault!!”
Eruan Arite looked up at Deora and said a single sentence that made Deora freeze without speaking another word. “Who was it that slammed the door so hard that the shelves toppled over?”
The color drained slowly from Deora’s face as he watched Eruan Arite scribble down stuff on that blasted paper with his elegant handwriting.
Zerel took this opportunity to pat Deora on his back “comfortingly”.
“Don’t be too sad little Dei. There are 6 months left until March. You would have lost that pay anyways. So, what does it matter if you lose it now or lose it later?”
Deora’s bloodshot eyes turned to Zerel. Within them brewed homicidal rage.
Zerel pretended not to see it and continued. “Besides, the lodging and the meals are free. Even the uniforms are covered for. It’s not like you are going to die if you don’t get paid. Also, doesn’t your family grant you any allowance? You are a n.o.ble from the main bloodline after all.”
Deora glared so hard that the veins in his eyes almost burst.
Zerel suddenly seemed to realize that he said something wrong and looked at Deora apologetically. “Oh. I’m sorry. I forgot that Thayns aren’t well off…”
Zerel suddenly covered his mouth with his hand bashfully. He then proceeded to correct himself. “I mean… what I meant is… your folks are righteous and don’t believe in spoiling their children. I really admire how Thayns have a policy that everyone has to work to get paid. It’s because of your strict rules that the members of the Thayn family are so well respected by the commoners. You are n.o.bles, yet you trade luxury for upholding justice and peace in the lands of Halnea. Respectable, respectable.”
If Zerel had said these words at any other time, Deora would have thought them to be compliments. Zerel even said it in such an innocent and righteous tone. Yet currently, to the furious Deora, those words sounded like taunts and the soft apologetic smile looked simply derisive.
Suddenly, Deora’s pale face started flaming up. Literally, flames started climbing up Deora’s neck.
A soft cough caused the flames to freeze in their tracks.
Both Deora and Zerel looked back at Eruan Arite who was looking at them emotionlessly.
“Zerel,” Eruan started. “How would you explain the strange phenomena? Why did the Light spell go out of control?”
Zerel wanted to just shrug and claim that he didn’t have any ideas, but he saw the solemnity in Eruan’s eyes and changed his mind. The situation was serious. This was not the time to test his patience.
Zerel pretended to cough, swallowing down the lies he intended to say. He then slid his fingers through his long, dark purple hair before responding.
“It was quite a peculiar occurrence. Technically speaking, it is possible that Elaru Wayvin forcefully changed the spell shape after it was formed which caused the spell to fall apart and go out of control. However,”
Zerel paused briefly. Eruan intertwined his fingers in front of him and continued calmly. “However, you don’t believe that to have been the case?”
Zerel smiled coyly. “If it were manually caused by her, the result wouldn’t have turned so chaotic. And more importantly, she would have suffered from the backlash.”
Everyone in the room understood the principle. Deforming an already formed spell and breaking it would be like twisting one’s limb and snapping it. Not only would it be extremely painful, but it would also be extremely taxing, causing the mage to experience a mental backlash.
Eruan’s purple eyes flashed. “And you believe she didn’t suffer any backlash?”
Zerel nodded. “I didn’t notice any signs of her suffering from a backlash. She even proceeded to cast a Morph spell to save the gla.s.s tank right after. If she was suffering from a backlash then achieving that precision and ease of casting would have been impossible.”
Zerel’s eyes glittered mysteriously.
If Elaru Wayvin didn’t suffer a backlash from the forceful deformation and destruction of the spell, it would mean that the spell had been cut off from her before it got damaged, like cutting off a limb.
Whatever happened to a cut off limb wouldn’t affect the original owner.
But also, once cut off, the mage wouldn’t be able to control it anymore.
Which meant that the deforming and the chaotic behavior of the spell couldn’t have been caused by the control of the mage.
If Elaru Wayvin cut off her own spell to prevent herself from suffering a backlash, then the strange behavior the spell showed after that couldn’t have been caused by her.
This incident was… as if a cutoff limb started spasming and moving by itself.
“A magical artifact?” Eruan murmured.
Zerel’s smile got wider. “I once read a report on how the Mana Twister affects already formed spells. The report detailed an occurrence quite similar to this one.”
Mana Twister was a divine artifact of the Thayn family. The artifact would exert control over all mana in its area of effect, twisting it out of control.
The force with which the divine artifact could affect mana was even stronger than the mage’s ability to control his own mana. This twisting force would interfere with the mage’s weaving, making it impossible to cast magic in the area of effect covered by the artifact.
Because of its ability to prevent the usage of magic, the Mana Twister was used as a core of Asinraz, the prison-island holding the most dangerous convicts.
Most of the people only knew of the artifact’s main usage. Very few were aware that this force didn’t only affect raw mana, but also the already formed spells.
When Deora heard the mention of his own family and one of their heirlooms, his ears perked up. He suddenly exclaimed. “You can’t be saying we had something to do with it!? That’s preposterous!”
Zerel rolled his eyes and smirked. “Of course not. I think we would have noticed if Mana Twister was moved from Asinraz. Surely, there would be interesting headlines in the Sibyl. Perhaps ‘A sin in Asinraz! A large-scale prisoner breakout!’”
Seeing Deora’s suspicious and agitated face, unsure whether Zerel was messing with him, Eruan added calmly. “Rest a.s.sured. No one is suspecting the Thayn family.”
Eruan’s calm words acted like a soothing tonic, calming Deora down. If headmaster Eruan Arite said so, then that was indeed the case.
After rea.s.suring Deora, Eruan turned his head full of white hair towards Zerel once again. “Do you believe that someone is interfering with the exams in hopes of stopping Elaru Wayvin from enrolling? Or do you believe her to be the one in possession of the artifact causing the issue?”
Zerel shrugged nonchalantly. “All I know is that when the accident happened, Elaru Wayvin, was surprised and yet not surprised. As if she was aware that what happened might happen but hoped it wouldn’t.”
At any other time, Deora would have spoken up against Elaru Wayvin, pushing for the jinx to get banned from the exams. But Eruan’s first question shocked him into silence.
Could it be that he had been blaming the wrong person the entire time? That there was a sinister mastermind behind all of this? That it wasn’t Elaru Wayvin who was the jinx, but someone interfering behind the scenes?
The thought caused chills to go down Deora’s back and his righteous Thayn blood to boil. He might be impulsive and shortsighted, but he would never punish the innocent and absolve the guilty.
People might often forget that he was a Thayn, even he, himself, might often forget the fact. But the righteous principles of Thayns were rooted into their very bones. A subconscious part of them that was omnipresent, that they couldn’t forget even if they wanted to.
Headmaster Eruan Arite watched the retreating backs of Zerel Reysic and Deora Thayn.
After the door to his office was closed, leaving him alone in the room, his mind once again returned to the report laying on the side of his desk.
Eruan Arite pushed the papers back to the center of his desk and stared fixedly at the image of a redheaded girl looking back at him.
Unconsciously, his fingers thumped rhythmically on his desk. His eyebrows kept furrowing and relaxing.
One would think that he was debating what to do with the red-headed troublemaker.
One would think that the report on Elaru Wayvin and the today’s “murder” incident would be the reason for his strange behavior.
One would be wrong.
What was truly nagging Eruan Arite on this fine evening, was an irritating sense of familiarity that the image in front of him evoked inside of him.
Did he see this redhead before somewhere?
Eruan Arite had an impeccable memory. If he had seen the girl before, he would have surely realized it, if not remembered where he had seen her. Yet, he was sure only of one thing – this was the first time he saw her face.
Which meant that the sense of familiarity should be caused by the resemblance of her face to someone he knew.