Chapter 8: Darkness of Truth (5)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
He suddenly heard his name, and Mahoro turned his senses towards the entrance of the cave. He recognised that it was Noah, but his throat was dry, and Mahoro couldn’t use his voice to call out to him.
“You’re there, aren’t you? I’m coming in!”
Mahoro wanted to tell Noah that he must not come in, and he used all of his effort to try to get up. The sound of footsteps drew closer, and Noah arrived running where Mahoro had collapsed inside the cave.
“Get a hold of yourself!”
Noah placed his hands on Mahoro’s shoulders, but they immediately pulled away in surprise. Grating, crackling sounds echoed as Noah’s hands were burned.
“Don’t… touch… me…” Mahoro’s voice was hoarse. Sparks covered his entire body, and they burned anything that touched him. He couldn’t suppress them from his body.
“I won’t let them find you. I’m going to block the entrance.”
After Noah spoke, Mahoro heard the sound of rocks collapsing. The sudden stillness afterwards was likely due to the closing of the entrance. Mahoro felt weary, but he rolled on the ground.
“Don’t… come near me…” he barely managed to say.
Noah nodded like he understood and pulled out his wand. “Your magic has likely gone out of control. The power that you displayed was immense. Don’t worry, I’ll help you feel better.”
Noah whispered something in a low voice as he waved his wand, and the scent of a herb that seemed to help Mahoro relax wrapped around his body. His pain disappeared, and he no longer felt any discomfort. Did Noah use recovery magic on him? Mahoro lost a little strength in his body, and Noah wrapped Mahoro into his embrace. Bursts of sparks crackled in succession, and Mahoro knew that it was causing pain to Noah’s body. However, Noah endured the pain without a sound and held Mahoro tightly.
“…Calm down. Everything’s okay now.”
Covered in Noah’s warmth, Mahoro trembled with fright, but he heaved long, deep breaths. The sparks slowly settled down, and his stiffened body became more and more relaxed. His breathing started to even out, and his heartbeat calmed down. When the sparks stopped crackling, the light that his body emitted waned and grew weaker.
“Oh… I…” Mahoro raised his head in relief. He had felt such a physical weariness, but now it was gone.
“Mahoro.” Noah gazed at Mahoro, comforted so see him calm again.
As the light disappeared from his body, the inside of the cave grew darker. Noah recited an incantation, and a light from the end of his wand illuminated the cave.
“Noah…” When Mahoro looked at Noah’s face in the light, his tears naturally started to fall. He could not believe the things that had happened to his body. He wished that it had all been a dream.
“You’ve stopped giving off light. That was quite a zap you gave me; I can still feel it. Your magic really went on a rampage.”
Noah looked at his right hand and gave a wry smile. There were blisters over it. And it was Mahoro’s fault.
Mahoro felt terrible for inflicting Noah with such pain. The events from earlier still frightened him terribly, and Mahoro leaned into Noah’s chest and wept. Noah rubbed Mahoro’s back to comfort him. There were injuries all over Noah’s beautiful face and body. His uniform was torn, and traces of blood were visible. Even his beautiful dark brown hair was singed.
Mahoro wiped his tears, and Noah asked him a question like he needed to confirm something.
“Hey, were you a part of Siegfried’s schemes?”
Mahoro trembled with a start, but he rushed to shake his head.
“I had no idea what was happening… Lord Sieg said that there was a special stone embedded inside me…” he said with tear-choked eyes.
Noah responded in shock. “A special stone is embedded inside you? Did they somehow put a magic stone inside your body? I’ve never heard of such a ridiculous thing…! Can that even happen? It’s really too hard to believe. But it is true that I sense a magic stone from you… So is that why magic powers are amplified around you?”
Noah grabbed Mahoro’s shoulders with a stern expression on his face.
“I never knew that such a frightening thing would happen. Dr Mary had brought me out. Dr Mary was… Lord Sieg’s…”
Mahoro desperately tried to explain himself.
“…Lord Sieg said that… he had left me at the Academy all for today.”
Mahoro cast his eyes down as he talked.
“I see. I understand now. In short, he deployed you, his fuel tank, to the Academy so that he could use incredibly powerful magic. That’s terrible. So he had planned to attack this island from the beginning.”
Noah seemed to have grasped Mahoro’s faltering explanation, and he pushed his hand through his dishevelled hair.
“—A number of uprisings popped up around the kingdom all at the same time today,” he told Mahoro in a grim tone of voice.
Mahoro felt a sudden chill run through his body. Uprisings…?
“The moment that a state of high alert was issued, attackers also arrived at the island. It seems that Siegfried leads a sect of His Holy Kingdom of Trinity. No, maybe not a sect, he may very well be the ringleader who leads the entire cult. He seemed to be after the magic stones hidden at the bottom of the lake. In order to steal them, he probably put you here at the Academy to amplify his magic and chose today to carry out his plans.”
Mahoro’s head couldn’t keep up, and he clenched both of his fists. His Holy Kingdom of Trinity—that had been written on that file from the dangerous persons list. That was the cult that Alexander Valentino had founded.
“Lord Sieg… He gave his name as Siegfried Valentino… He said that he descended from the dark magic bloodline…”
Mahoro recalled Siegfried’s declaration and shuddered. Siegfried had been related by blood to that person in the file that seemed to look like him. Siegfried was someone from the dark magic bloodline. Hadn’t that bloodline been wiped out? He had gathered enough power to cause a large-scale uprising around the kingdom. Then what of the House of Baldwin? Why had Lord Samuel used deception to claim Siegfried as his son?
“…I know. Only the dark magic bloodline can summon those beasts of darkness.” Noah calmly analysed the beast attack from earlier that he had faced. “He sure hid it well… The dark magic bloodline is different from us; I’ve heard that they can use all types of magic. That’s probably why he could disguise himself as someone from the earth magic bloodline without attracting suspicion. I can’t believe that the honourable House of Baldwin would betray the kingdom like this.”
Noah knitted his elegant brows and pondered over something.
“Um… What happened to everyone…? Was anyone hurt… because of me…?” Mahoro asked fearfully. He had killed innocent dragons. He must have hurt a lot of others too.
“They continued the fight with Siegfried and his men after you turned into a ball of light and disappeared. Without you there, we can’t lose, especially with the Commandant as our strongest advantage on our side. However, it was still a struggle with Siegfried and his dark magic. The Commandant instructed me to chase after you and took me off the front line. My mission is to prevent you from falling into Siegfried’s hands.”
Noah spoke indifferently. Mahoro now understood why he had sealed the entrance of the cave.
“Let’s wash your face for now, since there’s water here. You’re all battered up.”
Noah lifted Mahoro in his arms and carried him to the water. Although Noah had removed his physical weariness, his head still felt heavy, and Mahoro couldn’t think very well. Noah lowered him down and took out a white cloth to dip it into the water. He wiped Mahoro’s face with the moistened cloth, and Mahoro turned his eyes to the burns on Noah’s hand.
“Noah, your hand…”
Because he had held Mahoro to calm him down, Noah’s hands were in terrible condition.
“I’ll have the Commandant heal them later. I’ve used up too much of my magic. If I don’t rest myself for a while, I won’t be able to use recovery magic.” Noah murmured like he would rather not speak about it.
It seemed that Noah had used up all of his magic in his battle against Siegfried. He had probably used the last of his power to cast recovery magic on Mahoro. Mahoro felt even more terrible about Noah, and it made him feel embarrassed and ashamed.
“I’m taking off your clothes.”
Noah removed Mahoro’s clothing, which had become like scraps of cloth, and he cleaned the soot and dirt off of Mahoro’s face, the back of his neck, his hands, and his feet. Mahoro’s clothing had been entirely scorched when his magic went out of control. Noah removed his jacket and placed it over Mahoro’s naked body. The jacket was far too large for Mahoro, and it even covered down to his thighs.
“You’ve become pure white. Is it because you expended such a massive amount of magic power?”
Noah touched Mahoro’s hair with his hand. Mahoro hadn’t known this, but apparently his hair that had been dyed blond reverted to its original white colour.
“You’re white all over. It’s like you’re a fairy.” Noah smiled faintly as he whispered, the tone of his voice light. The corners of his lips fell, and he gently drew Mahoro closer to him by the back of his neck.
“From now on… what are you…”
Noah’s face crumpled in anguish, and he pressed his forehead up against Mahoro’s. Noah looked terribly pained, and Mahoro’s heart ached to see him like this. From now on—Mahoro tried to imagine the future of those words and closed his eyes. What would happen to him from now on? What was happening outside? What about Siegfried? The Commandant? The cadets—?
Mahoro understood that the peaceful life that he had up until this morning would never return to him.
“What… will happen to me… I wonder…?” Mahoro couldn’t think of anything, and he mumbled dejectedly. He felt Noah’s breath approach and then lips were pressed against his own. Mahoro could have avoided the kiss if he wanted to, but he stayed where he was. Noah’s lips were cold, and his breath was hot.
“…What? You’re not going to push me away?”
Noah chuckled to tease him and cupped his face with his hand. He guided Mahoro’s face closer and kissed him again. Noah’s lips started to heat up, and little by little, the kiss between them deepened. Mahoro could feel that Noah’s hand was slightly trembling, and he slightly peeked open his eyes.
Noah had a look of hopeless despair when Mahoro saw him. That beautiful face had scrunched itself in agony.
“Question: If you can save a thousand lives by sacrificing a single life, would you be able to take that life, whether by direct or indirect means?”
Mahoro was thrown by another one of Noah’s unexpected questions. Maybe Noah in his own way was trying to help Mahoro straighten out his mind, so he thought for a little and spoke up.
“If they can be saved by a single life… It could be called a noble sacrifice, perhaps? I can’t let a thousand people die without trying to do something about it.”
“Then what if that single life belongs to the person you love?”
Mahoro blinked at Noah’s follow-up question.
“That’s…” Mahoro cast his eyes down and shook his head. “I can’t take the life of the person I love.”
Noah chuckled quietly at Mahoro’s honest answer. “That’s right. The weight of each life isn’t equal. At the very least, they’re not to me. A thousand people can die, but as long as the one person I love lives, that’s all that I care about.”
Noah seemed to have hardened his resolve, and he grabbed Mahoro’s hand in a tight grip.
“We can’t stay here for too long.”
Mahoro was startled as Noah pulled his hand and led him farther into the cave.
“Where are we going…?” Mahoro asked, feeling perplexed.
“I don’t know,” Noah answered carelessly. “But we can’t stay here. I just know that if Siegfried or the Commandant comes, they’ll try to take you somewhere far away. I don’t want to be separated from you.”
Noah crouched as he moved through the dark cave. The light from the end of Noah’s wand illuminated the narrow path. It was one thing to be wary of Siegfried, but of the Commandant too? Mahoro was shaken by this revelation. Noah had imagined the different paths of Mahoro’s fate and what he saw had terrified him. But where could Noah go from here? They were inside a strange cave, and they didn’t know where they were. And besides, no matter where they ran, this was an island. Unless they had a boat, they couldn’t leave this place.
Mahoro was worried about Noah as he walked forward like he was driven from the place, and Mahoro tried to call out him. The cave made his voice echo, and he dropped his voice lower than usual. Mahoro couldn’t shake his hand free as Noah stubbornly pressed forward.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.