Chapter 8: Darkness of Truth (2)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Mahoro revised at the Library until 4 o’clock, and when he thought to return to the Blocks, he saw a dragon employed by the Magic Corps flying in the sky. It was ornamented on its head and back, which meant that it was not a wild dragon. Dragons fundamentally did not listen to humans—they were creatures who attacked people—but they obeyed a single family in the kingdom who were known as dragon tamers. And with a dragon flying over the island, the cadets were abuzz with excitement as they looked up at the sky. The dragon circled around the island above them and then disappeared at the eastern edge.
Mahoro had seen dragons before when he attended a military ceremony with Siegfried when he was young, but it was rare for dragons to be flying over the buildings at the Academy. It gave Mahoro an uneasy feeling, and he hurried through the hallways. The sun started to set earlier now that it was November, and it was getting darker around him. Mahoro passed the owl perched at the entrance of the Accommodation Blocks and returned to his room. It was empty; Zach and Albion had not returned yet. Mahoro placed his textbooks on his desk and went to the window to look outside.
That was when the shrill voice of a bird rang out.
“Emergency alert, emergency alert. All first-year cadets, report to your rooms immediately and prepare to stand by. Second- and third-year cadets, report to the training grounds armed with swords and wands. I repeat, all first-year cadets…”
The bird with the long tail that Mahoro had seen when he broke the barrier was flying in the air, repeating the alert in its shrill voice. It was a bird, but its voice seemed to reach the entire island. Although a dragon had been flying in the sky, this alert must have meant that something serious had happened. Dr Mary’s disturbing remarks from earlier hadn’t helped, and Mahoro grew even more uneasy.
“Mahoro!” Zach flew into the room and clung to Mahoro. “What happened? Club activities were just cancelled.”
Zach opened the window and looked around restlessly outside.
“I’m not sure either. The First Years are supposed to stand by…”
Now that Zach was back in their room, it wiped away a bit of his fear. Mahoro stood next to Zach and looked out at the sky with him. There, he could see a number of dragons flying towards the island from the ocean. They all had military designations.
“Oh my god, black dragons! So cool! But did something happen?” Zach looked worried.
The dragons flew away in a blink of an eye. The first-year cadets weren’t of any use yet, and they were to stand by. The second- and third-year cadets were to report to the training grounds armed with swords and wands. It was as if a battle would break out…
“Huh? Where’s Albion?”
Zach noticed that Albion wasn’t there and looked under the bed.
“He has separate plans from me today.”
“Oh, right. I wonder if he’s okay. …But he’s a familiar. He doesn’t need me to worry about him.” Zach chuckled wryly and took a seat in a chair.
There was a knock on the door, and Mahoro left the window to answer it.
Mahoro took a few steps backwards after he opened the door. Dr Mary was standing there in her doctor’s coat smiling.
“Mahoro. I’m in need of your assistance. Will you please come with me?”
Mahoro hesitated. Would she say that he could see Siegfried like she had mentioned earlier? But why now?
“Dr Mary, what’s wrong? Did something happen?” Zach popped his head out from behind Mahoro to look at her.
“I’m just borrowing Mahoro for a while. Don’t worry, the commotion will settle down soon. It’s only a training exercise.”
Dr Mary tugged on Mahoro’s arm. If Mahoro could see Siegfried, then he would more than welcome it, but he felt a hint of uneasiness that he would have to accompany Dr Mary to see him. Would he be all right if he went with her?
“Oh, it’s a training exercise? Wow, it must be a huge one.” Zach looked relieved at the news, and he didn’t doubt what Dr Mary had said.
Mahoro looked back, wondering what he should do, but Dr Mary pulled him by the arm, and he stumbled out of the room.
“Come, let’s go.” The tone of Dr Mary’s voice changed as soon as they were alone in the empty hallway. It was a low and cold voice unlike the one that she usually used. Her smile disappeared, and she roughly pulled Mahoro with her as she ran.
“Please wait, Dr Mary. Um, is Lord Sieg…?”
Despite his confusion, Mahoro pleaded with Dr Mary. She murmured quietly, “He is waiting for us.” Was Siegfried really on the island? Mahoro was still unable to comprehend anything, but he ran with Dr Mary. She lifted the corners of her lips.
The owl that was supposed to be perched at the entrance was gone when Mahoro exited the Blocks, and Dr Mary headed directly for the lake. That was when soldiers entered his view. The soldiers that were normally stationed at the harbour were on the move, carrying long rifles.
“There are still no soldiers this way yet. Follow me as you hide yourself.”
Dr Mary removed her doctor’s coat and hid deep in the thicket, running under the cover of the trees. She was wearing tactical clothing in camouflage. There many questions that Mahoro wanted to ask her, but he thought that seeing Siegfried was the highest priority here, and so he kept silent and followed her. The sun set lower and lower as their surroundings were dyed red from the dusk. There were also soldiers riding on the dragons in the air, and they circled around as if searching for something. Mahoro followed Dr Mary and headed for the lake.
Dr Mary came to a stop in the thicket and whispered, “It’s almost time.”
Just as Mahoro wondered what she meant, a violent explosion burst in the air. There was a bright flash that lit up the area, and when he looked up, he saw a dragon roaring painfully in the distance, plummeting through the sky. It looked like the dragon had been hit with a shell.
“Wha… What just…” Mahoro was so surprised that his legs almost gave out from under him. It was the first time that he saw a dragon stricken like that. He could hear alarmed voices from far away as the dragon fell. Eventually he felt the impact from the ground as it crashed on the island.
A second dragon was shelled with explosives in the air. The explosions hurt his ears, and Mahoro covered them with hands. Where were the shells coming from? For what purpose would someone aim them at the dragons?
“Come, let’s break the barrier while we have this moment.”
Dr Mary pushed Mahoro’s back; she was not in the least perturbed. Break the barrier? Mahoro was confused. Wasn’t it wrong to do that? The second dragon had fallen nearby. Screams of a dying creature filled the air, and plumes of black smoke drifted into the area. The scent of sulphurous smoke assailed his nose, and he struggled and choked. It became harder to see, and his fear swelled inside of him. Dr Mary stopped close to the lake, took out her wand, and started reciting a complicated incantation. Mahoro had never heard such an incantation before.
“Found them! Over here!”
Mahoro heard men’s voices from behind them, and he panicked. When he turned around, he saw soldiers carrying guns coming their way. Mahoro crouched down, fearing for his safety, and that was when Dr Mary yelled, “Close your eyes,” and raised a wand over her head.
Mahoro closed his eyes, and at the same time, a flash of light filled the area, and Mahoro trembled. He didn’t know what had happened. He squinted his eyes open and saw that all the soldiers that had been charging towards them had collapsed on the ground. They appeared to be unconscious, and no one moved a muscle.
“Your power is enormous! I cannot believe that I can use such magic!” she shouted excitedly, seizing Mahoro’s arm to lead him to the lake. They rushed into the territory where there had been a barrier before. Did Dr Mary break it with that strange spell that she had chanted?
Mahoro asked a question to Dr Mary’s back as he ran after her. “That night by the lake… Was it you that I saw, Dr Mary!?”
She didn’t look back to answer. “Silly, that was Lord Siegfried who was there. He was searching for something hidden at the bottom of the lake. I was only watching from outside the barrier!”
Siegfried had been there at the lake!? So he hadn’t seen wrong—? Mahoro didn’t even have time to think as he stood at the lake shore with Dr Mary.
“W-Why are you doing all this…? Dr Mary…? What is Lord Sieg…”
Even Mahoro understood that something grievous was happening. The Commandant had told him not to break the barrier, but Dr Mary broke it anyway. And dragons had been shelled in the sky. There was also the question of Siegfried being on the island—just what was Dr Mary trying to do? He realised belatedly that he should get away from her and tried to shake her off of his arm.
Mahoro had been standing petrified at the lake shore, but he straightened his back at the sound of the dear familiar voice. He turned his body towards the direction of the voice, and there he saw Siegfried, dressed in a black hooded cloak. Siegfried slowly lowered the hood, and his sharp eyes on that dignified face appeared, unchanged from before his disappearance. That tall and slender body approached Mahoro one step at a time; however, there was one particular detail that had changed. Siegfried was supposed to have black hair, but after lowering his hood, red hair fluttered out from behind him.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.