Chapter 5: Siegfried’s Shadow (1)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
His afternoon lessons consisted of firearm assembly and maintenance, and after that was a revision of magic history. When the lessons ended at 3 o’clock, Mahoro told Zach that he would look around the Main Building and they went their separate ways.
As he walked around the different areas of the building, Mahoro found himself in front of the Magic Society. Once the club reopened, he wondered if it would be crowded with applicants who wanted to join. Mahoro casually shifted his gaze and caught sight of the door to the clock tower mechanical room. Curiosity made him walk up to the door and turn the knob despite the plate that said Authorised personnel only. If it was locked, he would give up and leave, but the door actually opened and he entered it without thinking. There was a small room inside, and in the back was a staircase.
Mahoro opened the door at the top of the stairs to find a view of the inside of the clock tower. Large cogwheels rotated in circles, and metal parts and wooden beams stretched across the space left and right. Mahoro walked across the slender beams just wide enough for a single person, and he arrived at an area behind the clock face. He glanced at the Roman numerals displayed backwards on the dial and spun around to survey the inside of the tower. It was an intricate structure. Above the dial was an enormous brass bell. So that was what rang out so magnificently over the campus.
It feels nice and peaceful somehow. Maybe I’ll study here.
Mahoro stretched his hands over his head.
He sat down to spread open his textbook and started revising his lessons.
Mahoro was immersed in his studies when the bell suddenly rang out. He jumped with a start and closed his textbook. Before he knew it, it was already 5 o’clock. This close to the bell, the sound almost hurt his head.
The bell of the clock tower rang four times per day at Loewen Military Academy: 7 am, noon, 5 pm, and 7 pm. The bell at 7 am was the signal for the cadets to get up. The bell at noon signalled that it was time for lunch. The bell at 5 pm was for the end of club activities, and at 7 pm was their curfew.
Distracted by the loud chiming of the bell, Mahoro heard a faint sound of the door opening, followed by footsteps of someone entering.
“Is someone there?” a voice called out, and Mahoro hurried to gather his textbooks and notes. Suddenly out of the shadow of a pillar by the entrance, a man appeared. It was Noah.
Noah widened his eyes. “So it’s you, hamster.”
Mahoro thought that Noah would yell at him for trespassing, but he didn’t seem to be angry.
“This is my secret hideout. I sneak up here when I want to get away from Theo. Well, I can allow a small animal in, I suppose. Anyway, you’re pretty agile to get over there.” Noah sounded impressed. He briskly crossed the narrow beams over to Mahoro.
Noah sat down next to Mahoro and asked curiously, “Didn’t you think of what would happen if you fell?”
Now that he mentioned it, the beams were quite high in the air, and he would definitely be hurt if he fell. If he was really unlucky, he could die. But Mahoro had always loved high places, and he would climb trees all the time and stare out at the sky.
“I’m used to it.” Mahoro shifted to sit on his knees.
Noah turned his gaze to the cogwheels. Mahoro felt a hint of gentleness in those eyes, and it surprised him. Apparently Noah liked watching the movements of the cogwheels.
“You really are a strange one,” Noah murmured.
Mahoro tilted his head in confusion, and Noah pulled his eyes away from the cogwheels to stare at him.
“The reason why I came up here is because…”
Mahoro blinked as Noah trailed off and watched him. This beautiful face up-close and staring at him made his heart race, and he caught his breath. Even though Noah was a man, this breath-taking beauty of his made Mahoro nervous. Siegfried was also quite beautiful, but out of the people that Mahoro had met, Noah had an exquisite quality to him that no one could match.
“…Well, whatever. Maybe I had only imagined it.”
Instead of finishing his sentence, Noah made an evasive statement and poked Mahoro’s forehead with a finger. What was that about? Mahoro did wonder about it, but more importantly, this was a chance for him to ask Noah about Siegfried, and he sat up straight.
Mahoro asked tentatively, trying not to offend Noah, “Umm… May I ask you about Lord Sieg? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, of course!”
“…What do you want to know about Siegfried?” Noah glanced at Mahoro looking annoyed.
“Anything that might lead to the reason for his disappearance. And if you have any ideas where he might have gone… Um, why was the Magic Society suspended?” Mahoro asked in a quiet voice.
Noah fell silent. Mahoro held his breath as he gazed at the handsome profile.
“…Summoning magic,” Noah muttered.
Mahoro had never heard of that term before. Perhaps it was high-level magic?
“Siegfried performed summoning magic, which is banned by the kingdom. It’s magic that conjures people and creatures that don’t exist in this world—though it doesn’t mean that you can summon just anything. You need an item related to what is summoned. Siegfried had a wealth of knowledge about magic, and he was particularly interested in summoning magic. But there aren’t any books about it here, so it’s unclear how he learned to use it in the first place.”
Mahoro held his breath in fear and fixed his eyes on Noah’s lips. He felt a threatening mood in the air and naturally lowered the tone of his voice. “Why is summoning magic banned? What did Lord Sieg summon?”
“It’s banned because inexperienced sorcerers would summon inhuman creatures that kept causing disturbances, and so now it’s a special magic that can only be used with the Queen’s authorisation. Siegfried was researching summoning magic under absolute secrecy. None of the club members knew about it until just before the incident happened, and we tried to talk him out of it. But he didn’t listen to any of us. Just what was he trying to summon…”
Mahoro remembered Siegfried’s spiritless eyes and trembled. Siegfried had a side to him that Mahoro couldn’t imagine.
“There was a night when Siegfried didn’t return to the Blocks. Apparently he had gone into the forest and didn’t come out for ten days. The instructors were all tense at the time, so I remember it well. They had asked the older cadets to search for him, but he wasn’t anywhere where they were permitted to search. When Siegfried finally returned, he had lost all emotion, like he was a different person. Afterwards, we heard from the Commandant that Siegfried had performed the banned summoning magic and that our club was suspended. Siegfried filed his withdrawal from the Academy and immediately disappeared. The Commandant and the instructors desperately tried to stop him, but he took matters in his own hands to quit.”
Mahoro was speechless at the story that he just heard. He could have never imagined the circumstances. He now knew what had happened to Siegfried, but somehow the mystery grew deeper. It was unmistakable that his disappearance was related to the summoning magic.
Mahoro forced out his words. “Could what he had summoned have possessed him…?”
Noah shook his head at the suggestion. “No, that’s not possible. Before Siegfried withdrew from the Academy, I talked to him a little, and he knew who I was.”
If that was the case, then why did Siegfried leave the Academy? Was there something he was unhappy about? Or did he have something he wanted to do off the island?
“Who… or what did Lord Sieg summon?” Mahoro asked, at a complete loss.
“I don’t know. He did it alone, and no one knows anything.” Noah got to his feet. Mahoro wanted more information and grabbed Noah’s uniform.
“This is all I can tell you. Just to let you know, this is top secret information. The Commandant warned all the Magic Society members not to tell anyone what had happened. You won’t be able to investigate any more here. The topic of Siegfried is strictly forbidden even between the instructors.”
Noah’s words were a big shock to Mahoro. If even the instructors were forbidden from talking about it, Siegfried must have done something unconscionable.
Noah muttered, “My mood is ruined,” and left.
Siegfried had summoned something with summoning magic, and then he started acting strange. No, only a third party thought so, and Siegfried had insisted on the decision to leave.
Mahoro grieved as he wrapped his arms around his knees.
Siegfried had been struggling with something, and it pained him that he couldn’t do anything to alleviate it. Siegfried likely would not turn to him for help, but Mahoro still wished to help him.
Mahoro recalled the image of Siegfried’s dignified figure and hung his head.
Noah’s information did nothing to brighten his spirit. His exhaustion from the day wore on him, and though he thought that he should leave the clock tower, he slumped over and lay down.
Perhaps he should nap a little. Mahoro listened to the precise movements of the clock hands and closed his eyes.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.