Chapter 6: The Sealed Room (1)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
At the end of the month, Mahoro sent his written report to Samuel. With the start of October, he had become accustomed to his life at the Academy, and although he felt like he could relax more, every day was very busy. As usual, his marks in Swordsmanship and Physical Combat tutorials could only be called disappointing, and his assembly of his firearm was so exceedingly slow that he was told that he would be dead a hundred times over. His marksmanship was poor, and even merely carrying a weapon filled him with dread.
“Mahoro! Don’t hesitate! Attack!”
Rainy days were spent in the Training Room, and Professor Andre would be yelling at him constantly. That day during Swordsmanship tutorial, Mahoro had his hands full just defending against his sparring partner. He did not understand how everyone could swing a sword at someone without hesitation. Did they not worry that they might hurt their partners?
“All right, we end here for today. Mahoro, you will stay behind.”
At Professor Andre’s announcement, Mahoro dropped his shoulders crestfallen. He thought that he could finally be released for the day, but now he had to stay behind.
“Mahoro, show some fortitude! Your arms and legs are running away. But you are nimble and excellent at evading manoeuvres though,” the Professor said with exasperation.
It was very true. From a young age, Mahoro never liked it when others swung their fists at him or threatened any other violent actions, and when it happened, he would run and escape. It was possible that he was the most ill-suited person in the world for a military academy.
Whilst Mahoro practised his swings as he was ordered, Professor Andre said to him very seriously, “In December, we will conduct friendly matches, and if you don’t win a single one, that will mean supplementary lessons for you. You may think you have time, but it will pass in a blink of an eye.”
December was when the cadets had examinations. Would they be examined by those friendly matches? Mahoro became depressed, and his swings got slower. If his current progress did not change, he would most certainly have no winter holiday.
“But I do see that you’re trying your best.” Professor Andre gave Mahoro a pat on his head as encouragement, but Mahoro grimaced. Now even the instructors were treating him like a child. The Professor pulled his hand back quickly.
“Sorry, you just appear very child-like, I suppose… Like you’re somewhat helpless. But I shouldn’t treat an eighteen-year-old man as such.” Professor Andre smiled and laughed it off.
Mahoro was doubly depressed, and when he finished his practice swings, he left the Training Room.
He looked up at the clock tower and saw that it was 4 o’clock. He decided to spend his remaining hour at the Library.
Mahoro headed to the Library still dressed in his training kit. It was located on the left side of the grounds facing the Main Building. The Library consisted of domed buildings connected by three passages. One building housed general books, one housed books related to magic, and the one in the far back housed the restricted materials collection that could not leave the Library.
Mahoro entered the building housing the restricted materials collection. It was spacious inside with white tables and chairs for the patrons. A librarian was behind the reception desk and would retrieve the necessary materials from the collections in the back.
Ever since he heard from Dr Mary that Siegfried had loved the Library, Mahoro had looked all around the buildings, but he couldn’t find any traces that Siegfried might have left behind. Behind the reception desk, there was an office in the back with shelves of files that listed who had requested which book and when, but naturally cadets were not allowed to enter.
“Oh, hello, Mahoro.”
The librarian had seen Mahoro a number of times here before, and she smiled when she saw him. She was an elderly lady with grey hair and silver-rimmed glasses. All the cadets called her Mrs Anne.
Mahoro had asked Mrs Anne if he could look at the philosophy books. For some reason, all the books on philosophy were held in the restricted collection. He was only allowed to read them here in this building, and so he had been reading them little by little at a time. He didn’t know which philosophers that Siegfried had liked, and he started reading from the most famous books first. Mahoro wanted to know what Siegfried had been thinking.
“Yes, here you are. You shall be reading this for a while, I see.” Mrs Anne looked at the bookmark that Mahoro had placed in the book and laughed heartily.
Mahoro accepted the book from Mrs Anne and asked casually, “Erm, may I ask you a question? Why are the books on philosophy restricted from leaving the Library? Are there others who are reading this book besides me?”
“Books on philosophy are exceedingly expensive, and very few copies of them exist. Because they are so precious, we treat them with the utmost care. Come to think of it, a cadet who had quit the Academy liked to read this particular book.”
Mrs Anne had said the last part very secretively, and Mahoro became excited. The cadet who had quit must have referred to Siegfried. Mahoro went to a table next to the window at the very end of the room, placing his book down to pull out a chair. The building holding the restricted materials collection was not very popular, and as usual, no one was here except for Mahoro.
He quietly turned the pages, reading through the book, when he heard the sound of the door opening.
Footsteps approached where Mahoro was sitting, and he looked up from his book. He froze up in shock. In front of him was Noah in his uniform.
Mahoro had bewilderedly spoke up, with nothing else that he could think of to say.
“You, you’re reading philosophy? Do you even understand what you’re reading?” Noah said, glancing at the book that Mahoro closed.
“I don’t understand anything…”
“Not a surprise there. You don’t look like someone who likes philosophy,” Noah said with a smirk. Was he implying that he looked not very smart…?
“Question: What makes someone a virtuous person?” Noah asked abruptly.
Mahoro was confused. A virtuous person…?
“Umm… Someone who doesn’t lie, I suppose?” he said, giving the first answer that came to his mind.
Noah snickered. “Say that there’s an old woman. She has a daughter with an incurable disease and only six months to live. The old woman believes that telling her daughter the truth will make her despair and instead tells her that she will recover from the illness. Is the old woman a bad person?”
Mahoro was at a loss for words.
“She’s… a good person. Then um, I guess I’d say someone who doesn’t do bad things?” he said, thinking of another answer.
Noah gave a mocking smile. “What does the term ‘bad things’ specifically entail? What makes something good or evil changes depending on the viewpoint. Someone who slaughters masses in battle is a war criminal to the enemy, but a hero back home.”
“That’s… Um, I see…”
Mahoro was at his wit’s end after Noah picked apart his answer. It was too aggravating to admit defeat like this, and he wanted to knock Noah off his pedestal, but he couldn’t come up with anything good to say in return. What was it that made someone a virtuous person? Mahoro thought of a number of ideas, but he felt like Noah would only pick them apart again, and he couldn’t give him an answer. Who he thought was a good person could possibly be a bad one to someone else.
As Mahoro agonised for an answer, Noah laughed appreciatively and fixed his gaze on Mahoro.
“You’re an earnest one, huh? You don’t get angry; you just keep pondering the question—I like seeing that. That continual pursuit for the truth, even if it’s non-existent, is the essence of philosophy. What’s important is that you think about it. Even if you read the books, it’s not enough to make it sink in. Anyway, I’ve been thinking… You’re just very strange. Or maybe I’m the strange one…?”
Why did Noah call him strange every time he saw him?
“I trust and value my instincts.” Noah tossed his dark brown hair off his shoulder and sat on the table next to the book.
Mahoro stared up at Noah and said, “Er, okay?”
“I’ve been conducting an experiment lately. Whenever I feel something that bothers me, I’ll walk towards it, and you’re always there. Tell me, just what are you?” Noah leaned down towards Mahoro and narrowed his eyes.
What are you? That was what Mahoro wanted to ask.
Noah asked in a pointed tone of voice, “Are you really not hiding a magic stone somewhere?”
Mahoro was confused. “I told you before that I don’t have one… I don’t have a wand either.”
His Magic Arts module still only consisted of lectures about fundamental knowledge, and he hadn’t been supplied with a wand yet. He knew that sorcerers used magic stones to embed them into their wands.
Noah brought his face closer to Mahoro’s. “Of course I know that; that’s why I’m saying that it’s strange. Listen, at the entrance ceremony… I sensed that there was a magic stone in the room. Yes, it was from you.”
Mahoro remembered how Noah had dragged him away after the entrance ceremony. Now that he thought about it, the Commandant had said something about sensing a magic stone from him too. What was that supposed to mean?
“But… It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have a black stone.”
Mahoro was baffled as he thought about the black magic stone that was used in the candidate examinations.
“The one I sensed isn’t black. Nor is it a blue one, like the one I have. It feels like all the different stones are intermingled somehow.” Noah held out his right hand as he talked. On his middle finger was a ring with a sparkling blue stone. Was this a magic stone? Mahoro had never seen a magic stone before other than the black one, and he looked at it full of curiosity. It sparkled like a jewel. He learned that magic stones could be worn elsewhere besides wands.
“This is a protection ring given only to the top cadets here. I’m from the House of St Johns, which means I can naturally use fire magic. That’s why I chose a blue magic stone that enhances the power of water. With fire and water, it gives me access to a large variety of composite magic. And I sense that composite of something from you. It bothers me so much that I can’t relax when you’re around.”
Noah took the book from Mahoro’s hands and slid off the table.
“Go hide yourself right now. After about fifteen minutes, I’ll track you down.”
Mahoro stared wide-eyed in disbelief at the incomprehensible instructions.
“Go. Hurry up. Hide anywhere on the island you want.” Noah returned the book to the librarian, and Mahoro was so intimidated that he couldn’t even protest. He reluctantly got up from his chair. He didn’t understand what was happening, but apparently he now had to play hide-and-seek with Noah. Mahoro looked at his watch, and it was half past four. His precious time…
He’s so overbearing…
Mahoro was a little unhappy, but he had lived with Siegfried for so long that it was second nature for him to obey what he was ordered to do. He exited the Library and hurried across the courtyard.
Can he really find me? I should hide in a place that’s impossible to find.
Mahoro headed for the forest by the training grounds and hid himself deep within the thick undergrowth. The forest was expansive. He won’t find me here, Mahoro thought as he huddled down and looked at his watch.
Fifteen minutes have passed… I should get back to Blocks soon.
Mahoro figured that Noah would never find him as he kept an eye on his watch.
It was five minutes later when he heard the sound of footsteps. Just when Mahoro thought, No way, the bushes were shoved apart in front of him.
“See! I just knew you were here!”
Noah pressed himself towards Mahoro excitedly, and Mahoro widened his eyes and shouted, “Whaat!? How did you—!?”
He thought that maybe Noah had imagined things, but Noah really did find him. Mahoro had suspicions that maybe Noah secretly watched him, but he had hidden himself when he travelled to get here.
“You know, this is the first time I’ve ever been this interested in other people.” Noah pulled Mahoro out of the bushes and trapped Mahoro’s cheeks between his hands. “I wonder if I’m in love with you.”
Mahoro fell speechless at the very astounding words that were directed at him. In love? What did that even mean? Mahoro somehow understood that Noah could sense wherever he was, but love? That didn’t make sense.
“A-Are you sure that you haven’t imagined things…?”
Mahoro blushed furiously, and his voice cracked when Noah brought his face to his. Beautiful blue eyes gazed intently at him. Noah was incredibly beautiful, and Mahoro understood why so many cadets were fascinated with him.
Noah traced Mahoro’s lips with his finger. “Maybe I am. But that’s why I want to know more about you. Come to my room tonight.”
Mahoro staggered back from Noah in shock. Was this an invitation to his bed? Mahoro was so shocked his legs almost gave out from under him. Mahoro had no experience with romantic relationships, not even with women. His face burned red from the unexpected invitation. Was this beautiful man saying that he wished to become intimate together just because he wanted to know more about him? Mahoro’s head went blank.
“B-But I’m a man…?” Mahoro said, shrinking back, thinking that perhaps Noah didn’t understand this basic fundamental fact.
“I can see that. Relax, this would be my first time with a man too, although I’ve been approached by plenty of them due to this face. Well, I suppose that I certainly never imagined that I would be attracted to a gormless pipsqueak like you. But my instincts are saying it’s you. It’s telling me to make you mine.”
As Mahoro took more and more steps backwards, Noah pressed closer and grabbed his upper arms.
“But, er… I don’t have any feelings for you…” Mahoro decided to say, afraid that Noah’s intimidating presence would have him wrapped around his finger in no time. “I’m grateful for your information about Lord Sieg, but these things are completely separate issues…”
As Mahoro desperately tried to find excuses to reason with him, Noah heaved a laboured sigh.
“Mahoro.” Noah cupped his elegant hands over Mahoro’s ears. Noah pressed their foreheads together, and that beautiful face with perfect features peered directly at him. “Look into my eyes.”
The clear blue eyes captured Mahoro. He called his name, even though he had always called him “Hey you” before. The eyes refused to let Mahoro look away.
“I’m beautiful, I’m perfect, and I’m telling you that I want you. Other than nodding your head ‘yes,’ what else is there to say?” Noah whispered in his beautiful, alluring voice. Mahoro was frozen in place; the voice sounded as if it would brainwash him. Just as he wondered if Noah would devour him like this, a figure appeared behind Noah.
The disgruntled voice that called out to them came from Leon. He was wearing his uniform, and he scowled at Noah and Mahoro. Noah only turned his head to look at him, unperturbed in the least.
“It’s almost 5 o’clock. You going to break the rules again? I also heard some pretty inappropriate remarks.”
Apparently Leon had seen Mahoro run towards the training grounds. It made him concerned, and he came searching for him. Mahoro was relieved that he was saved, and he escaped from Noah’s hands.
Noah snorted and turned to face Leon.
“What’s wrong with me seducing a First Year? As long as it’s consensual, there’s nothing prohibiting us from having sex. It wouldn’t be appropriate to do it in a public location, of course, but fortunately I have a Platinum Room. It’s none of your business whom I choose to bring there,” Noah asserted smoothly.
Leon faltered slightly as he looked at Mahoro. When Mahoro, with his face bright red, shook his head, Leon frowned.
“Go back to the Blocks.” Leon nodded his chin at Mahoro.
It was probably a signal that said, Take the chance to leave now. The clock tower rang precisely at that moment, and Mahoro ran from the two cadets as fast as his legs would carry him. Noah and Leon appeared to be arguing about something. He told himself not to worry about it, hurrying back to the Blocks and bursting into his room.
“Mahoro, what’s wrong? Your face is completely red.”
Zach was at his desk studying, and he stared at Mahoro with his eyes in wonder. Mahoro scrubbed at his flushed cheeks and muttered, “It’s nothing.”
What would have happened if Leon hadn’t come? He never imagined that he would ever get such an invitation from Noah. Why did he even do that? Was he just teasing him? Or was he serious?
S-So Noah is fine with men too…
As Mahoro changed out of his training kit, he turned red, then green, and back again repeatedly. It couldn’t have been real that a nobleman from the Five Noble Houses had invited him to his bed. Mahoro was a man by all appearances, but was Noah someone who didn’t care about that? Or perhaps, because Mahoro was a man, he thought that he could just play with him?
If he approaches me again, I have to clearly refuse him. Nghhh. I’m too weak when that beautiful face of his stares at me. This makes it awkward for me to join the Magic Society.
The other day, there was an announcement that the Magic Society had reopened. Noah’s invitation had been far too shocking for him, and Mahoro spent the rest of the day unable to calm down.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.