Chapter 7: Shift in Relationships (1)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Translator’s Note: I just read the preview of the first two chapters of Volume 2, which introduces the concept of a “clan head” (族長). This appears to be different from a “family head” (当主), which is what Samuel Baldwin is referred to. In general, the terms can be used interchangeably, but from what I’ve gathered, Samuel is a head of a branch of the House of Baldwin. Since the story gives no location for Samuel’s residence to specify that he is Head of the House of Baldwin of Specific Locality, I will adjust the translation to use “a Lord of the House of __” to refer to heads of branch families like Samuel and “the Head of the House of __” to refer to the head of the main branch.
During a lecture on magic history, the sound of a large cannon firing reverberated in the distance. The first-year cadets attended Magic lecture together, and all thirty-two heads turned to look out the windows. They sat in a stadium-style lecture hall with rows of tables and chairs facing a teaching podium. Professor George stood at the podium and smiled wryly.
“Today the Third Years are conducting military exercises. Thanks to the noise, it’s said that there are very few birds on this island.”
Professor George was a middle-aged man with gentle features. He was always wearing an old-fashioned cloak that sorcerers would wear whenever he lectured.
“As I was saying, I believe that many of you already know this due to your family backgrounds, but a long time ago, there was a long and violent struggle between the Five Noble Houses in this kingdom. It was a fierce war that embroiled the magic controlled by each of the Houses. The House of St Johns brought their fire magic, the House of Ainsworth brought their water magic, the House of Rutherford brought their wind magic, the House of Baldwin brought their earth magic, and the House of German Reed brought their lightning magic. As cadets of Loewen Military Academy, you are all indeed descendants of the Five Noble Houses, even those who may be distantly related. The war caused many casualties in the kingdom because the Five Noble Houses would not put an end to their conflict. That was when all of a sudden, a bloodline appeared that could wield the power of dark magic.”
Professor George introduced several gruesome incidents that had shaped the turbulent period of Durand Kingdom’s history. The cadets all behaved themselves as they listened quietly to the stories about their ancestors. Mahoro had learned about the magic war between the Five Noble House before, but he never had a sense for what had happened then. Apparently the Five Noble Houses had each created their own factions, pulled other nobles and regular citizens into their war, and divided the kingdom into five separate pieces. From conflicts over territory to assassinations, there were even fanatics who raided and looted common residences. It had all happened three hundred years ago.
“The family that suddenly appeared with their dark magic had waited for the Five Noble Houses to decimate their powers so that they could take over the kingdom with dark magic. That was when the Five Noble Houses forged a peace agreement between them for the first time, and together they fought off the dark magic. Dark magic was outlawed by the kingdom, and even now we know almost nothing about it, but it’s believed that the magic revolved around spells specifically designed to kill people. The Five Noble Houses set aside their grudges from the past and came together in solidarity to eradicate the dark sorcerers. Thereafter, the kingdom recognised the importance of peace moving forward, and that was why it established Loewen Military Academy a hundred years ago and gathered the children of the Five Noble Houses here. Whilst they’re young and flexible to new ideas and ways of thinking, the Five Noble Houses can come together to form close connections. This was a momentous turning point in our history, and it revolutionised magic as we knew it. We discovered that with magic stones, the type of magic that could be used was no longer restricted to the one passed down by the bloodline. Furthermore, by combining different types of magic, we created a new class of magic, called composite magic, giving us countless new spells. Just by cooperating together, we have made advancements to transform our kingdom for the better. That is why you should befriend as many people you meet here as possible and not just congregate with those from your own families. That is the true wish that our ancestors had for the kingdom.”
Professor George finished with a gentle smile.
A cadet raised his hand and asked a question. “Professor, why is there a higher tendency to produce children without magic conduits in marriages between different Houses?”
“That is a good question. There are still a lot of mysteries surrounding magic conduits that we don’t understand. It is easier to produce children with magic conduits when both parents are from the same family, yes, and it is easier to produce children without magic conduits when the parents are from different families. Perhaps the spirits prefer to have purer blood. However, it does not mean that couples from different families can never have children with magic conduits. The Commandant herself was born between families of lightning magic and wind magic, and as you can see, she is a tremendously powerful sorcerer; so famous she is known as one of the Four Sages. We can only say that it is up to God and the spirits.”
Mahoro listened to Professor George’s lecture with great awe.
The Professor looked around at the cadets and opened a large box. The box was filled with magic wands.
“Starting next week, we will hold Magic tutorial where you will all get to use real magic stones. Magic stones are extremely precious, and the military strictly manages its supply. We will be using ones specially provided to us by the military.”
Professor George showed the cadets the section of the wand’s grip where they would embed magic stones. The wand was made from oak, a very commonplace material. The wands were distributed to the cadets, and Mahoro held on to the one he was given. Zach was excited and happily drew circles with his own. There were four small holes bored into the grip of the wand; apparently they would embed magic stones there for elements they couldn’t naturally use. When the cadets became more advanced, they would learn to use composite magic, but the Professor told them that it would require mathematical thinking.
“Be sure to take great care of your wands. If you break or burn them, you will be punished.” Professor George smiled at the cadets who had started chattering with excitement.
“Like I had taught in our last lecture, magic works first with an incantation. Invoke the name of the Five Spirits associated with the magic you wish to use and give your command. The spirits will gather, and the magic stones on your wand will activate the magic. Those with magic conduits will be able to wield magic, but those without it, even if they say the incantation, nothing will happen. With repeated use, you can strengthen your magic conduits; however, capabilities differ for every person, and you can compensate for it by adjusting the size of the magic stones that you use.”
Professor George continued the explanation smoothly.
“Magic is classified into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. You will start with beginner-level magic. In our first tutorial, we will learn how to use fire magic. Beginner-level magic starts with lighting a fire. At intermediate levels, you will produce large flames, and at advanced levels, you will manipulate the fire at will. It is even possible to create a dragon out of fire. I would like to ask individuals from the House of St Johns who are already capable of beginner-level magic to please assist the other cadets.”
Mahoro carefully took notes of the lecture.
“Next week we will hold Magic tutorial at the training grounds. This ends our lecture for today.”
At Professor George’s cue, the cadets stood up to leave. As they filed out of the lecture hall, they heard the cannon fire again, and Mahoro for some reason became uneasy. Apparently they didn’t use live ammunition during the military exercises, but Mahoro didn’t feel comfortable about cadets firing at each other. He couldn’t say anything so weak at a military academy, but he didn’t like war or violence.
“Yay, we’re finally getting Magic tutorial. I can’t wait to use magic~ Even though I have a magic conduit, I’ve never used it before, so wonder how it’ll feel~ Ahh, I can’t wait~” Zach walked next to Mahoro with his eyes sparkling.
Children from the distinguished families of the Five Noble Houses would learn their bloodline’s magic from their parents or grandparents, but apparently Zach, a fellow Class D cadet, was the same level as Mahoro.
Mahoro tilted his head as he walked down the hallway. “Are you not allowed to use magic in the Magic Society?”
Zach puffed out his cheeks. “No, all the First Years can only observe. Not until we start tutorial, we can’t. Noah, the Club President, does the most beautiful magic. Oscar’s magic is so fast, and Leon’s magic somehow feels really powerful.” Zach spoke with dreamy, starry eyes.
Noah and Leon did not get along, but apparently they belong to the same club.
“Oh, really?” Mahoro was impressed, and Zach rubbed his nose happily.
“Everyone has such cool wands. And familiars too. When we become Third Years, we’re supposed to receive a familiar from the Commandant that matches our personalities. Oh my god, have you heard about Noah’s familiar!? His familiar is supposed to be so terrifying that it scares all the Second Years. With Noah’s incredible beauty, I imagined him with an Afghan hound or a borzoi… Oh, if it’s scary, then maybe he has a Dobermann?”
“U-Uh… Who knows…”
Mahoro remembered Bull’s vicious growls and gave a dry smile. He couldn’t bring himself to tell Zach that it was a pit bull when he saw the dreamy look in his eyes.
“I’m hungry, let’s get lunch.” Zach smiled brightly and pushed at Mahoro’s back.
It had been a month and a half since they first matriculated, and Mahoro had settled into a rhythm at the Academy. As usual, he still had a lot of weaknesses when it came to tutorials, but somehow he had kept up in his lessons.
However, Mahoro still made no progress with his investigation into Siegfried’s disappearance. He couldn’t bring himself to report to Lord Samuel the information in the mysterious file that he had found in the sealed room. Just because their features were similar, Mahoro couldn’t decide if he ought to disclose his discovery or not.
Mahoro went to the mess hall, placed a salad, two kinds of sandwiches, and vegetable juice on his tray, and sat with Zach where there were some empty seats. Cadets from Class A were at the next table over, and sitting among them was Keyes, the representative for the new cadets. When Mahoro and Zach sat down with their lunches, Keyes gave them a glance from the side of his eyes.
Zach noticed Keyes nearby and leaned forward towards the table. “Whoa, it’s Keyes. I don’t really care for him. He’s always such a sourpuss.”
Zach and Keyes were both in the Magic Society. Apparently Keyes was a relative of Leon’s, and their serious attitudes were very much the same.
“Is he looking at us?” Mahoro asked quietly as he drank his vegetable juice. Maybe it was only his imagination, but he felt like Keyes had been glaring this way for a while. And the glare wasn’t directed at Zach, but at Mahoro instead…
Mahoro stuffed his mouth with his sandwich, feeling uncomfortable. It was hard to eat the shrimp and avocado sandwich like this, although it was delicious.
The Class A cadets from the next table over stood up to leave, and Mahoro relaxed, feeling relieved. But his relief only lasted a moment, as Keyes silently walked up and stood in front of him. When Mahoro lifted his head, Keyes was looking down at him with a scowl.
“…You want something, Keyes?” Zach asked, annoyed.
Keyes ignored Zach and sat down next to Mahoro. “Hey, is it true that Noah’s taken a liking to you?”
The question was almost like a threat, and Mahoro was stunned into silence. Zach was also shocked.
“What? Are you jealous?” Zach asked with a smirk, and Keyes sent him a glare. The severe expression forced Zach to raise his hands in submission.
“What did you do to cosy up to him? Your marks are awful, and you struggle through tutorials.”
Keyes looked intimidating, but Mahoro just gawked at him. So even the cadets in Class A knew how poorly he was doing.
“Umm… I didn’t do anything…” Mahoro faltered and looked to Zach for help.
Did Keyes like Noah? With Noah’s incredible beauty and his top marks at the Academy, there were likely cadets who were attracted to him. But Mahoro never wanted to cosy up to Noah; if anything, Mahoro felt like his chastity was in danger, and he would rather have Noah stay away from him.
Zach retorted in a low voice.“What can you do? You’re just not very cute, Keyes. Maybe you’d have a chance if you were born pale and cute like Mahoro.”
Keyes’s forehead twitched. Anger radiated from his body, and Mahoro was scared that maybe a fight would break out.
“How stupid of me to come ask failures from the loser class.” Keyes shot them a look of disdain before stomping off. Zach lost his temper and crushed the carton of juice in his hand.
Mahoro tried to break the tension and asked, “Why did he have to be so mean about it?”
Zach snorted. “He’s a tosser. He’s always insulting Class D, and it makes me so angry. But it’s great watching Lord Noah snub him. He’ll go up to Lord Noah and try to talk to him, but Lord Noah barely even answers him! Well, he barely answers me too when I try to talk to him… Sometimes he’ll even ignore me.” Zach laughed with a touch of self-deprecation.
“Huh? Is that what Noah’s like?”
The treatment was so different from his own that Mahoro couldn’t believe that he was the same person. From what he knew of Noah, he thought that Noah would treat the club members roughly.
“Noah’s attitude is like night and day between people he’s interested in and those that he’s not…”
Mahoro became conflicted, pondering this information. Perhaps Noah was more similar to Siegfried than he had thought. Since Noah had treated Keyes with equal cruelty, it didn’t appear that their family statuses had an effect on him.
“But Mahoro, rumours are flying around that you’re really close to Noah. Everyone says that they always see you two together. I want to know too. How did you get to be so close to Lord Noah?” Zach asked artlessly.
Mahoro frantically answered, “We’re not close!”
Mahoro didn’t want to get close to Noah, but because of that power that would always let Noah find him, they were always seeing each other. Mahoro was careful not to let the two of them be alone together, but Noah still kept propositioning him.
Mahoro and Zach were walking through the hallway after they finished lunch when Zach spotted Noah outside the window with his eagle eye and waved Mahoro over. “Oh, look, look. There’s Lord Noah. Mahoro, come with me. That’s Lord Noah’s fan club. It’s really famous.”
Noah and Theo were at a bench in the courtyard surrounded by a crowd of First and Second Years. Zach took Mahoro by the hand and led him out to the courtyard, bringing him to some bushes behind the bench where the crowd was.
“Erm, isn’t this eavesdropping…?” Mahoro frowned, but Zach brought his finger up to his lips and shushed him.
“Lord Noah, is it true that you achieved double marks at the last exercises!?”
A cadet with sparkling eyes and flushed cheeks was trying to start a conversation with Noah at the bench.
“That’s brilliant! We also saw your match against Sotheby the other day! It was really, truly amazing! You’re so perfect at everything!”
The other cadets made excited fists in the air.
“You’re so beautiful and so gifted as the top cadet at the Academy! We all look up to you!”
“We’re going to work hard to be as good as you, Lord Noah!”
Compared to the ardour that cadets infused into their admiration for him, Noah’s responses were far too cold and brusque. But his fan club didn’t seem to be concerned with his attitude as they gazed at Noah with rapt attention and lavished their praises. Mahoro peeked between the bushes to receive an astonishing shock. Noah was reading a book while giving his answers. He was rotating his answers between Yeah, Hnn, and Uh huh, never once breaking the pattern; he wasn’t even paying attention to what they were saying.
“Did you hear that? That Lord Noah’s special technique for ignoring people. He only uses those three answers if he has no interest in the person.” Zach shuddered with dread.
Mahoro clung to Zach in fright. “That’s so scary… It seems like he’s holding a conversation, but he’s not, and that makes it terrifying.”
Noah suddenly lifted his eyes from his book and looked around him. Thinking that Noah had probably noticed that he was there, Mahoro pulled Zach’s arm, and they quietly left the area.
They returned to their room, and Mahoro felt a surge of exhaustion and stretched out in his bed. “That’s amazing. I can’t believe he has a fan club…”
Did the fan club think that he was a nuisance?
“Don’t worry. The members of Lord Noah’s fan club are all well-behaved. If Lord Noah says to scram, they’ll immediately scram. They also investigate any incidents of bullying or violence in the Blocks for Lord Noah, reporting every little detail to him. You’ve never been bullied, right, Mahoro? The people in Lord Noah’s fan club are all disgusting… err, I mean, all dedicated devotees to Lord Noah, and they’re happy just watching over him.”
“Oh, I see.” Mahoro gave a dry smile.
Maybe because it was an all-boy’s academy, but Mahoro felt like there were a lot of strange people here. But if that was the case, maybe Keyes would be more troublesome than the fan club. Today Mahoro learned for the first time that when groups of people of similar ages gathered together in one place, they could create a strange atmosphere.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.