Chapter 9: I Think, Therefore I Am (6)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
They finished their bath, and Mahoro wiped his body dry with a soft, fluffy towel. He was given a white dress shirt, a jumper, and trousers to wear. With his hair cut shorter, Mahoro kept worrying about how exposed the back of his neck was, and Noah wrapped a scarf around him that covered his neck up in its entirety. Noah changed into a bespoke suit. Apparently a suit was required of the host if guests were to visit.
“Noah, are your parents here? I would like to thank them for the hospitality,” Mahoro asked while Noah pulled on a jacket.
“Of course not,” Noah snorted. “This villa belongs to me. My name is on the deed, and I inherited it from my grandfather. My father is in London about this time with my elder brother for an assembly.”
Mahoro was overwhelmed by the confident, entitled attitude of his. So Noah was the master of this estate at this young age? He could not estimate how many hectares of land that the grounds covered.
Theo entered the room after knocking on the door. “Lord Noah, your friends have arrived. We have prepared refreshments in the courtyard.” He opened the door with a slight nod when Mahoro stood up to greet him.
“Let’s go.” Noah led the way out of the room.
All of the servants of the estate were much older than Noah, but Noah was well-accustomed to giving orders and expecting them to serve him. His speech was uncouth, but if he kept silent, he had a beautiful countenance that was noble and refined. It attracted those around him to obey and serve. Naturally, Noah was born to be a leader.
The manor was beautifully elegant, and it was staffed with many servants. With the carefully polished hallways and staircases and the exquisite ornamentation of the ceilings and walls, although the Baldwin estate had been quite grand, it was clear that the House of St Johns had outranked them.
Mahoro followed Noah out to the courtyard where there was a large table and chairs prepared for them and their guests today. Plates of sandwiches, scones, and other light fare, as well as fruit and warm soup were laid out on the table. Mahoro was thinking that it was too much food for two people when he heard a voice call out his name in the distance. His freckled-face friend was running towards him.
Zach, looking uncomfortable in a suit, came over to hug Mahoro. Mahoro hadn’t seen Zach since the day of the attack, and it warmed his chest to see him again after so long. Zach looked well. He squeezed Mahoro tightly and cried.
“Mahoro, I couldn’t get any news about you, and I was so worried.”
With Zach crying, it made Mahoro cry with him too. He had caused so much trouble for Zach, but Zach wasn’t angry with him at all.
“I’m sorry. Were you hurt? I’m really sorry. It was all my fault that everything happened.”
No apology would ever be enough for the disaster that Mahoro had brought to the cadets at Loewen Military Academy. He wouldn’t blame Zach if he hated him, but Zach was just glad that Mahoro was safe.
Oscar came strolling up from behind Zach. “So you’re finally released. Now I don’t have to see Noah all tense and irritable any more. I want to tell you all about the terror that Noah had inflicted on the other cadets.”
He gave Mahoro a quick hug and dropped a kiss on his forehead. “You must have had a hard time.”
Oscar smiled as he stroked Mahoro’s head. Noah went around behind him and kicked Oscar in the arse.
“Ow, that hurt!!”
“Don’t touch him with your grubby paws.” Noah gave Oscar a side eye.
Leon had arrived with Oscar and asked, “So you’re free now?” He looked down at Mahoro with the same stern look as usual, and Mahoro apologised and greeted him. Maybe because they were invited to Noah’s manor, but they all wore suits except for Mahoro.
The Commandant was the next to make her appearance. Today her hair was coloured pink, and she wore a black cloak with Albion sitting on her shoulder.
Mahoro turned to greet her. The Commandant smiled wryly and set Albion on the ground. Albion ran over with his short little legs and clung to Mahoro’s feet.
“I came to see how you were doing. Hmmm, you’ve grown quite thin. I suppose that it’s understandable…”
The Commandant gave Mahoro a few pats on the shoulder, her eyes filled with sympathy. She wrapped her arms around Mahoro and gave him a gentle hug.
“I should have realised your true identity sooner. I am called one of the Four Sages, and yet things have turned out like this. It is really quite shameful,” the Commandant said with a hint of self-derision.
She lowered her voice and asked, “Abbott hasn’t treated you too harshly, has he? He can be quite stubborn, which had me worried about you.”
Apparently the Commandant and Lieutenant General Abbott had been very old acquaintances.
“Noah, thank you for inviting me to tea. I have heard that the rose garden here is magnificent. If only it wasn’t winter now. Oh, but you do have a greenhouse.”
The Commandant left for the greenhouse after saying her piece. Perhaps she had judged that the cadets should spend some time together to catch up.
“You like sandwiches, right?”
Noah placed a variety of sandwiches onto Mahoro’s plate. For dessert, the chef brought over chocolate cake and apple pie and placed them on the table. Zach was happily piling scones onto his own plate. Leon didn’t seem to like sweets, only drinking coffee and partaking the lighter fare. Oscar ate with relish, trying all the dishes on offer. He had eaten several slices of apple pie all on his own.
It was a comfortable and relaxed meal in the courtyard. Zach talked about the Academy, and the Commandant had returned from viewing the greenhouse to supplement his story. Examinations had not been administered due to the attack, and the cadets were all relieved to have escaped them for the time being.
“It is also my responsibility for failing to see Mary’s true colours. I had noticed some suspicious behaviour from her before and had placed her under observation… But I had no justifiable reason to dismiss her from the Academy.”
The Commandant blamed herself for failing to take measures against Mary despite the suspicions that she had held against her. Oscar and Leon had also disliked Mary, and when they learned that she was a spy, they were not very surprised. If they had learned that Siegfried and Mary were at the lake at the time when Mahoro had broken curfew, would that have changed things? It was too late to do anything about it now, but maybe he could have saved even an additional life had he told them, and Mahoro was overwhelmed with regret.
“Commandant— Actually, I would like everyone to listen to this.”
Noah chose to speak up when Theo took his place next to him. Everyone turned to give Noah their attention.
“I will be withdrawing from the Academy. I can’t protect him if I am there, and I know that Siegfried will continue to pursue him. I have made him mine, and I will fight Siegfried to protect what belongs to me.”
When Noah made his solemn declaration, Mahoro was so startled that he had to return his teacup back to the saucer.
“Noah, you mustn’t…!!” Mahoro cried. How could Noah, the top cadet at Loewen Military Academy, the corps of cadets representative, quit? It was too hard to believe, and Mahoro turned pale. Even though Noah had made such a distressing statement, Theo stood there with no change to his demeanour. Shouldn’t he stop his master after hearing such an outrageous remark?
“…Are you serious?”
Leon and Oscar had both hardened their expressions. Mahoro wondered if they were recalling the attack on the island. As for Zach, the tea that he had been drinking dribbled from his mouth.
“I’m as serious as I can be. I’ve made up my mind, and nothing will stop me. My father says to leave it to the military, but they’re unreliable. The military base was attacked just yesterday, which concerns me. Siegfried has some kind of secret weapon that he’s hiding, and Mary is able to transform into a beast.”
Noah explained the strange occurrence that had happened with Mary. The Commandant frowned and looked greatly perplexed.
“How could it be!? Is that what had happened…!?” Her eyes glinted, and for a moment, her hair stood on end. “I’ve received reports that strange beasts had appeared where uprisings had broken out around the kingdom. I believe that it is Beast Transformation Magic. If my assumptions are correct, then Siegfried has allied himself with a very troublesome foe.”
The Commandant’s murmurs sounded bitter.
“I should have expected this to happen when Siegfried disappeared into the forest. That failure is also my responsibility. It had been my mission to eradicate the cult called His Holy Kingdom of Trinity along with the dark magic bloodline, but I had failed to do so.”
Had the Commandant been involved with the cult that Siegfried’s father had founded? But Mahoro could only sit there and listen silently.
“Noah, I understand your feelings for Mahoro, but he is still under military surveillance. I cannot say that withdrawing from the Academy is a wise decision. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Besides, staying at the Academy may allow you to get closer to Mahoro.” The Commandant lowered her voice as she looked over at Mahoro.
Noah leaned forward to ask, “What do you mean…?”
The Commandant raised her hand lightly to interrupt him. “I cannot divulge the details yet. But more importantly… Mahoro, I have heard the particulars of how the House of Baldwin had taken you in as a ward. You have trusted Siegfried for a long time, haven’t you? Are you able to fight against him?”
The Commandant questioned him with a piercing look in her eyes, and Mahoro could say nothing in response.
He had made up his mind that he would not go to Siegfried—but he could not yet answer the question whether he could fight him. Siegfried had been with him for as long as he could remember. Siegfried had treasured him. No matter how cruel and ruthless Siegfried could be, Mahoro could not turn a blade against him.
Noah’s voice was unhappy as he watched Mahoro freeze up and fall silent. Mahoro felt terrible and guilty towards Noah when Noah was the one trying to protect him. But he just couldn’t…
“You are quite the honest little one. You could have told a little white lie there.”
The Commandant stood up and placed an arm around Mahoro’s shoulders to reassure him.
“But it’s fine for now. From now on, your existence will be important to all of us, not just to the military. Siegfried very likely ate the forbidden fruit. We must uncover what it is exactly. There is also one more important issue that we must address—that is the question of your true identity.”
There seemed to be a hidden implication in the Commandant’s words, and Mahoro became uneasy. What did she have to say?
“Do you remember when I questioned if you truly carried the Baldwin bloodline? I read through some historical texts to look into the question. Have you heard of the light magic bloodline? Their existence has been lost to the world a very long time ago.”
The light magic bloodline…? Mahoro had never heard of such an existence before and tilted his head in doubt. But he was reminded of the ball of light that he had sometimes seen since he was young. What was that…?
“There is practically no information about the light magic bloodline; however, among the historical texts, I have found a description about them. It says that they are oddly pale and find it difficult to live out under the sun.”
Everyone immediately focused their attention on Mahoro.
“Perhaps there is a possibility that you may be a survivor of the light magic bloodline.”
Mahoro could not wrap his mind around this sudden information.
“And if it is true, then I may know the reason why Siegfried wants you by his side and has his eyes on the island.”
The Commandant sent a meaningful look to Noah. Noah frowned like he seemed to have understood it and glared back at the Commandant. It seemed to suggest that there was something that only the two of them understood.
“Siegfried tried to take over Crimson Island. Do you know why Loewen Military Academy was built on that island? It is not only because of the magic stones, but because it hides the most important secrets in the kingdom there. And Siegfried ate the forbidden fruit.”
Mahoro looked up at the Commandant in shock. The colour of her hair changed from pink to blue before his very eyes.
What was it that was on Crimson Island? What was this forbidden fruit that the Commandant had mentioned? Mahoro could sense something starting to move in a place that was unknown to him, and it struck him with fear.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.