Chapter 8: Darkness of Truth (6)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
After they had walked about an hour into the cave, Mahoro was tired and couldn’t move any more. They had found a small hollow, and Mahoro huddled against Noah’s shoulder to rest inside the recess. Noah was deep in his thoughts with a gloomy expression the entire time.
“What’s down there if we go inside?” Mahoro asked, spying the opening before them that could barely fit a single person.
Noah loosened the buttons at the collar of his dress shirt, and Mahoro saw the shiny silver choker that he was wearing.
“I can sense wind deeper inside, so there should be an exit.”
Mahoro thought that they had been wandering aimlessly through the cave, but apparently Noah had been strategising their movements. Did Noah know this island well? And what had happened with the battle outside? His worries were endless.
“…This wall is strange.”
Noah touched the rock wall behind them with a puzzled murmur. Mahoro also examined the wall, but he didn’t see anything particularly strange about it.
“It’s under a magic spell.”
Noah stood up and started to carefully inspect it. Had magic really been cast on such an ordinary-looking wall of this cave?
“…I can’t get past it. I know that magic has been cast here, but I can’t figure out how to remove it. I had suspected that this might have been a path to the eastern side of the island.”
Noah gave up on the wall and pulled Mahoro’s hand again.
“Let’s go. We need to hurry or the pursuers will find us.”
There was a strong insistence in his grip as Noah started walking and pulled Mahoro along. As they walked the narrow winding cave, the path gradually expanded in front of them. Mahoro dragged his feet wearily as he walked, and he suddenly stopped when he heard little footsteps in the distance.
“Your familiar? Shit. Did the Commandant happen to have him?”
Noah realised whose footsteps they were and clicked his tongue. When Mahoro revealed that Albion had been with the Commandant since morning, Noah looked up at the ceiling in resignation.
“Your familiar will always find your location. It’s useless to run from him.”
Albion made his appearance in front of them. Maybe he had smelled Mahoro’s scent, because he rushed forward and started barking in a high-pitched yap.
“Can’t you put him away?”
Noah tried to turn back to where they had come from as he rattled off the question.
“I don’t know how,” Mahoro said miserably.
Noah brandished his wand and glared at Albion. Albion’s fur stood upright as he growled and glared back at Noah. Mahoro saw Noah about to wave his wand, and he hurried to stop his hand.
“Noah! Are you there!? Is Mahoro with you!?”
The Commandant’s voice called from the back of the cave, and Noah and Mahoro both stiffened. Noah narrowed his eyes, and his expression turned wild like he would start to attack. Mahoro shook his head and wrapped his arms around Noah.
Since they could hear the Commandant’s voice, that must have meant that they had captured Siegfried and his men or that they had retreated.
The Commandant’s voice came closer, and Noah hardened his body. He was probably worried about Mahoro, but Mahoro did not want to run. When he let go of Noah’s body, he tried to go to where the Commandant’s voice was. Albion had come running to Mahoro’s feet, and he circled him as he barked. Noah had taken a hold of Mahoro’s shoulder, but the Commandant’s voice had grown even closer, and Noah let go like he had given up.
“Are you all right, Mahoro?”
As soon as their surroundings brightened with a magic light, the Commandant appeared. She walked briskly up to them and gazed at Mahoro and Noah in turn.
“The enemy has retreated. Right now the military is investigating if there are any remaining rebels. Mahoro, come with me.”
The Commandant held out her hand, and Mahoro tried to go to her, but Noah forced himself in between them.
“Commandant, what will happen to him?” Noah demanded. He clearly wanted to protect Mahoro, and the Commandant crossed her arms without a word.
“Commandant! He was only being used—”
She scratched her head at Noah’s shouting and tried to find a response. “I believe that to be the likely case too. But Mahoro, the military has placed an order for your detention. Their officers are already here for you.”
The Commandant faced the exit and jerked her chin in its direction. The military—Mahoro turned tense in an instant. Was this what Noah had feared? And was this why he had tried to run?
“No! I won’t accept it!” Noah stood in front of Mahoro and placed his hand to his own neck. For some reason, the Commandant paled and levelled Noah with a stern gaze as she held up her hand to reason with him.
“Noah— Do you plan to rebel on us too? Don’t let your emotions get the better of you! You don’t seriously think you can escape this place with Mahoro, do you!?”
The Commandant’s hair bristled as she harshly rebuked Noah. Noah glared directly back at the Commandant with defiant eyes and placed his hand on his sword. There was a terrifying tension that stretched between them.
Noah was still incredibly beautiful even with this violent rage plastered over his face; he looked like he could unleash an attack of his magic at any moment. Mahoro couldn’t let Noah get involved like this, and he hurried to cling to his arm.
“Noah, I’m fine with it.”
Mahoro grabbed the hand that was on the sword and pried it away. Noah turned around in anger, but Mahoro wrapped his arms around Noah’s body.
“I’ll be okay. I have to take responsibility for my actions.”
His magic had gone out of control, and he had hurt a lot of people and caused a lot of damage. He couldn’t pretend that it hadn’t happened. If the military was going to detain him, then he would have to submit himself to them.
“…I’m glad to hear that,” the Commandant said. “It makes it easier on everybody. Noah, don’t do anything foolish, please. Using magic to restrain my students is the one thing that I really hate to do.” She pulled out her wand as she stated her intentions with a solemn air.
Bloodlust flashed for a moment in Noah’s eyes as he glared at the Commandant, but he quickly turned his eyes down. Noah hugged Mahoro back tightly and sniffed his hair.
“Noah, thank you. I was very happy that you came to save me…”
Mahoro squeezed Noah’s hand in comfort. At the Commandant’s bidding, Mahoro started walking towards the exit of the cave.
“Mahoro, Siegfried’s forces have retreated for now. He has probably withdrawn from the island, now that military reinforcements have arrived. We have suffered great losses, but the cadets have managed to make it through the attack. Some of the cadets do have severe injuries though. But it was thanks to you that the magic stones on this island weren’t stolen from us.”
The Commandant told him the news as they walked side by side, and Mahoro was relieved. It was because he now knew that none of the cadets had died and that Siegfried hadn’t been killed. Even if Siegfried had been a horrific massacrer who had tried to use him for his awful ends, Mahoro didn’t want Siegfried to be captured or killed.
“I believe that you are not a terrorist. However, your existence poses quite a conundrum. The military will be the one to decide whether you are one of Siegfried’s accomplices or not, and they will be the one to detain you. If possible, I ask you to please do not resist.”
Mahoro nodded obediently. He felt a wind brush against his cheek. He could see the exit, illuminated by the moonlight, and he could hear sounds coming from it outside. At the same time, he could sense that a large group of people had gathered there.
When Mahoro exited the cave, soldiers stood ready with their guns pointed at him. Mahoro became scared and stopped walking. From the company of soldiers, a man in a military uniform stepped out towards Mahoro. The many medals on his chest indicated that he was a commissioned officer. He appeared to be in his late thirties. The man stared at Mahoro with shiny black eyes, his military cap perfectly in place. He had a strong, sturdy physique, and no emotions could be detected from him.
The Commandant pushed Mahoro forward and introduced the man. “This is Lieutenant General Glenn Abbott.”
The man looked down at him with an intimidating look, and Mahoro broke into a cold sweat. A lieutenant general was a considerably high rank in the military. And that person had been sent to detain him?
“So you are Mahoro Baldwin. From now on you are prohibited from using magic. You will be punished if you use it, so bear that in mind.”
Mahoro hung his head at Lieutenant General Abbott’s harsh words.
“I’m… unable to control…”
Mahoro hesitated to say that his magic could perhaps be invoked even if he didn’t mean to use it, but the Lieutenant General scowled at him.
“Don’t make me repeat myself again. Detain him.”
At Lieutenant General Abbott’s order, a soldier placed Mahoro into handcuffs. Noah shouted “Oi” from behind, and his voice had drawn closer, but the Commandant prevented him from interfering.
“Glenn. He is my student. Please remember your obligation to report everything in detail to me.”
The Commandant’s voice was tense. It seemed as if she had known Lieutenant General Abbott. The Lieutenant General nodded his head in generous deference.
Mahoro walked through the forest with the guns trained on his person. Along the way he saw burnt branches and trees and what looked like remnants of explosions caused by cannon fire. When he tried to stop, the soldiers mercilessly poked him with the muzzles of their guns. The landscape had completely changed from before Siegfried had appeared.
Mahoro was taken to the coast with the pier. On the way, he had passed by the Accommodation Blocks and the Main Building of the Academy, but it was nighttime, and he couldn’t hear any voices. The lights of the Blocks were also dark. The Commandant had said that the cadets were safe, but was that really true? Mahoro was not allowed to ask any questions, and he headed silently to the pier. A military ship was docked there. An incredibly large one.
At Lieutenant General Abbott’s order, Mahoro boarded the military ship. He wanted to see Noah’s face one last time, but he was surrounded by soldiers on either side, and he was forced to board the ship, unable to turn his head back. Mahoro became uneasy and inspected the soldiers’ faces. No one was smiling at all. When everyone was onboard, the ship quietly left the pier.
As they left Crimson Island, dark and despondent feelings filled Mahoro’s chest.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.