Chapter 6: The Sealed Room (2)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
The weekend came, and after attending Service at the Chapel, Mahoro spent his time in his room devoting himself to his report. The cadets were allowed free time after Sunday service ended, and this was the only time that they were each allowed to spend it as they pleased. Most cadets wore their own clothes on their days off, and Mahoro was dressed in casual attire: a white dress shirt, cardigan, and trousers.
He could hear the voices of cadets playing cricket in the courtyard and also laughter in the hallways. The training grounds were open to them on Sundays, and there were some cadets who took out horses for a ride. Zach had joined the Magic Society, the club that he had his heart set on, and he was basking in his joy. Mahoro had wanted to join it too, but after Noah propositioned him, he decided to find a different club. He did not want to create any opportunities where they would be alone together.
Mahoro finished writing his report before noon, and as he headed to the mess hall, Jack and Billy from his class called out to him.
“Mahoro, there’s something exciting happening at the lounge.”
They essentially dragged Mahoro to the lounge with them, and he saw people swarming the hallway outside of the lounge and an even larger crowd that had gathered inside it.
“Unbelievable! He sent his queen into battle!”
Mahoro heard excited cheers from the lounge, which made him curious, and he peeked through the crowd where everyone had focused their gazes. There was a strategy board game used for training purposes that was laid out on the large table inside, and Noah, in his uniform, was battling against another cadet. The board game was used in actual practice in Military Tactics tutorial at the Academy. They would station troops across various terrains on the board and compete as enemies fighting for control of the land. The cadets were watching Noah and the other cadet fight it out now.
“W-What are they doing? Who’s the other person?” Mahoro asked Jack.
Jack climbed onto people’s shoulders to get a look, and he was visibly excited as he explained what was happening. “That’s Sotheby, a Third Year who hasn’t lost a single game in Military Tactics! Noah just sent his queen into battle, stunning pretty much everyone. The tactic seems to have confounded Sotheby, and he’s completely shaken. He made a mistake just now.”
The standard by-the-book strategy was to protect the queen from battle, and yet Noah had intentionally moved his queen into the battlefield. Mahoro with his short height was unable to see very well, but from the wild cheers from the cadets, he gathered that Noah had won.
“While the soldiers swarmed the queen, Noah sent his soldiers to cut off the supply routes and won!”
Jack cheered with the other cadets to celebrate Noah’s victory.
Sotheby’s voice rang out, interrupting the cheers. “—How could you pull such a foolish stunt!? What would you do if your queen had died!?”
Apparently Sotheby was more enraged at Noah’s inconceivable battle tactics than at his own loss. The room fell completely silent as the cadets held their breaths and watched the two men.
In contrast to Sotheby’s rage, Noah answered with an air of nonchalance. “I could say the same to you. Don’t utter something so foolish. Royal blood isn’t worth a damn; there are plenty of replacements to install at the top. What’s important is the survival of the nation.”
Those didn’t seem like the words that someone descended from the direct line of the Five Noble Houses and appointed the representative of the corps of cadets would say. But was this the person that Noah was?
Mahoro left the lounge as it erupted into noise again, feeling convinced that Noah was a strange person. Perhaps gifted and talented people were missing something somewhere. But with that much self-assurance in himself, Noah could probably obtain anything that he wanted.
“Is it over?” Theo asked, looking over towards the lounge.
Mahoro had run into Theo as he walked down the hallway.
“Oh, yes. I think so.” Mahoro nodded, thinking he was referring to Noah, but for some reason Theo stared at him carefully, sweeping his eyes from head to toe.
“It appears that Lord Noah has taken a keen interest in you.”
Mahoro shivered as he raised his guard up.
Theo whispered to Mahoro, his expression unchanging, “I was placed here under his father’s orders, as Lord Noah’s minder, to prevent him from causing trouble at the Academy.”
So Theo wasn’t a friend, but a monitor. Mahoro stared back at Theo with his mouth open. Could it be that he was warning him to stay away from Noah?
“If Lord Noah ever tries to force anything on you, I will do something about it, so please do talk to me if you ever need to. Lord Noah is a talented individual, but he does have a tendency to not to listen to others.” Theo lightly nodded his head at Mahoro.
Mahoro was certain that Theo would snap at him, and it was a surprise that he hadn’t.
“I-I will take you up on your kind offer…?”
Theo nodded again and left.
Mahoro went to the mess hall feeling confused and sat down to eat lunch by himself. Perhaps the crowd in the lounge had dispersed because Jack and Billy came in, still excited, and sat down to eat lunch with Mahoro.
“Woooo~ Noah is so bloody amazing. He’s beautiful, and smart, and brilliant at magic. If I were a girl, I’d throw myself at him,” Billy rhapsodise quixotically with a rapt expression on his face. Mahoro almost spat out the ginger ale that he was drinking.
“Idiot. If a muscleman like you were a girl, we’d all piss ourselves. Noah prefers tiny creatures like this one here.” Jack pointed at Mahoro and laughed.
Mahoro ended up spitting out his ginger ale anyway.
Jack and Billy had both been consuming copious amounts of protein lately, rapidly building muscle. Mahoro carefully chewed his egg salad sandwich and his fish and chips as he listened to the two of them boast about their muscles for a while. The conversation then turned to Mahoro; the two of them were mystified by Noah’s interest in him.
“Yeah, if I try to talk to Noah, he’ll look at me like I’m some sort of pest.” Jack clenched his fists in frustration.
Mahoro had also experienced that treatment at first.
But if Mahoro stayed around and dawdled, Noah would likely show up at the mess hall, and so he hurried to finish his lunch and headed to the Library. Ever since he received that proposition, he would run away as soon as he saw Noah. Mahoro didn’t hate Noah, but he felt like he would be swept by his words if he dared to talk to him, and he wanted to put some physical distance between them.
Mahoro checked to see that Noah wasn’t around and entered the Library. What should he do if Noah used that instinct of his to find him again? With various notions running through his mind, Mahoro stepped over to the reception desk.
Huh? Mrs Anne isn’t here.
Mrs Anne wasn’t anywhere that he could see. She was normally always here, even on Sundays.
Maybe this is my chance? If she catches me, I can just say that I couldn’t find her.
Mahoro looked around to check his surroundings and grasped the doorknob to the back office door. It wasn’t locked. This was a golden opportunity, and Mahoro used it to slip into the office. He looked around to see if Mrs Anne had been in a blind spot, but no one was there.
If there’s a sealed room in the Library, then the entrance has to be here. I can’t think of any other place it could be.
Mahoro had been curious about the sealed room that Dr Mary had mentioned to him. He had searched all the other rooms in the building except this one, and he rushed to examine the walls between the shelves and behind the books. Mrs Anne could return at any moment. He was impatient to find it, and he had to hurry.
“What are you doing?”
Mahoro jumped when he heard a very familiar voice. Noah, in his uniform, was standing at the entrance of the office. But why was he here? Mahoro had thought that he would be eating lunch!
“Someone’s a bad boy, sneaking back here.”
Mahoro took a few steps backwards at Noah’s amused voice. He just wanted to find the sealed room and placed his hands wherever they could reach. When he stepped backwards and braced his hands on the wall behind him, his body lost its balance.
Mahoro should have hit a wall, but instead he felt the sensation of falling through the air. He frantically flung a hand out in front of him, and Noah instinctively reached to grab it.
Mahoro toppled backwards as he held Noah’s hand. Noah tried to help him, but he couldn’t, and fell down with him.
“Oww… Hey, you.”
After the sensation of falling through air, he took a hard impact against his back. When Mahoro came to his senses, he and Noah were piled on the floor together. Noah grimaced and pulled himself off of Mahoro to sit up. His voice stopped talking, and a sense of tension hung in the air. Mahoro hurried to stand up, and when he saw the view in front of him, he became speechless.
Up until a moment ago, he was certain that he had been in the office behind the reception desk of the Library.
But for some reason right now he was in a dimly lit room. There was flowered wallpaper that covered the walls, a parlour area, a fireplace, and massive bookshelves. Mahoro looked around the room with excitement. Strangely, there were no windows or doors. The only source of light was the weak glow from a chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Noah looked around the room with curiosity. “What is this place?”
“A sealed room. So it really exists.” Mahoro’s heart raced as he went up to a bookshelf. Mixed in with the very old-looking books on the shelves were some newer ones and apparently some files.
He had thought that he would find the grimoire on summoning magic that had caused Siegfried’s disappearance, but he searched through many of the thick volumes and couldn’t find anything that resembled a spell book. All he found were history books.
“This is a sealed room? Hmm, I think I do remember Siegfried saying that there was something in the Library… You’re pretty incredible. How did you manage to find this place?”
Noah’s eyes sparkled. He was even more excited about this room than Mahoro, looking at the walls, shelves, and furniture in amazement. Next, Mahoro picked up a file.
This isn’t a grimoire, I suppose…
He flipped through the file. It seemed to have attracted Noah’s curiosity, and he took it from Mahoro’s hands. Written on the spine of the file were the words Dangerous Persons List, which startled him.
“This is some pretty serious stuff.”
Noah’s eyes turned grim as he looked through the file with an intense concentration. Mahoro held his breath.
“It’s a registry of dangerous figures. I’ve never seen any of this information before.”
Noah restlessly flipped through the pages. The file had photographs of the dangerous figures, summaries of the crimes they had committed, personal information, family backgrounds, and their current statuses.
“Is a sealed room just a place to hide confidential documents…?”
It seemed like Noah couldn’t control his curiosity, and he started looking through each of the files. Mahoro took a different file with the same label on the spine and flipped through it. His eyes stopped on the word coup d’etat.
“What the…?” Mahoro froze in fright.
He had turned to a page, and when he looked at the photograph, he thought that he had seen Siegfried. However, upon closer inspection, the age was different and the face appeared tougher than the one he knew. Not to mention that the hair was red.
“What’s wrong? Hn, what’s that?”
Noah noticed Mahoro’s agitation and frowned as he looked over at the file. The name Alexander Valentino was written on the page. Twenty years ago, he had tried to instigate a coup d’etat. He came from a bloodline that controlled dark magic and had formed a religious cult called His Holy Kingdom of Trinity, and he and his believers had plotted a coup d’etat against the kingdom. Fortunately the military had suppressed it before anything had happened, but Alexander, the leader of the cult, had committed suicide, and there was very little understanding about the cult and its workings.
There was no one in the kingdom who did not know about the dark magic bloodline. They were a family separate from the Five Noble Houses, and once upon a time, had gripped the kingdom in fear. Dark magic was fundamentally magic that killed people. Everyone was taught that it was taboo, that they should never involve themselves in dark magic. It was said that the bloodline that controlled dark magic had died out, however…
“…He looks like Siegfried,” Noah murmured to Mahoro, who stared at the photograph of Alexander.
Mahoro immediately closed the file and shoved it back into the bookshelf. It couldn’t be. Siegfried was the only son of the local Baldwin estate, one of the Five Noble Houses. He couldn’t have resembled someone who had instigated a coup.
Mahoro had gone to a corner of the room and crouched down on the floor. Noah called out to him sounding worried, but Mahoro ignored him and clutched his knees to his chest. When he saw that file on Alexander, it gave him heart palpitations. Fear and suspicions boiled up from the recesses of his mind. Seeing that picture made him remember—that there was one time when he had seen Siegfried with red hair.
“Mahoro, this is a secret. I’m the same as you,” Siegfried had warned him as he took out some dye to change his hair colour. Siegfried’s eyes had been unusually terrifying, and Mahoro had nodded back at him, unable to stop his trembling. Lord Samuel and Lady Margaret both had black hair.
At the time, he had recalled a nursery rhyme that he had heard as a child. The red-haired demon is coming; coming to kill people; all the good boys and girls, now quickly run home… Red hair was an ominous symbol for the people of Durand Kingdom.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.