Chapter 122 – The Heart of the Matter
The sight was incredibly astonishing for Leticia Risettastone.
A one-sided battle, where Estelle Blueforest was defeated, after she had advanced with such overwhelming strength.
And what was most frightening, was that it was through power other than magic.
The thorough analysis and tracing of the opponents movement patterns.
He acted as if he could see the future.
(How much did he…)
Leticia was stunned at the amount of research that would have been involved.
He was already among the busiest people in the Royal Magicians Order.
Leticia knew, because she had had to force him to rest sometimes.
And so he should not have had much free time left.
The training and research he did was in the realm of madness.
And yet he had dedicated his life to it.
(And all of this effort is for someone who may not reciprocate his feelings. Is it pure, or stupid?)
However, that was why he could not be left alone.
And she hoped that he would be rewarded, even a little.
Even if it was a dream that had no chance of becoming true.
She just hoped that it would end, without him getting too hurt.
She couldn’t help but feel that way.
(I’m just as much of an idiot, perhaps.)
She glanced to the side, where the person he was doing this for was sitting.
What was she thinking right now?
The eyes were full of emotion.
Her expression was beyond description.
But it looked a little like a girl who was in love.
(Huh? Could it be that…)
Her heart beat faster.
And with a small hope in her heart, Leticia waited for her to continue.
“Damn it. He got ahead of me again… I won’t allow it. I’m hot on his heels and won’t give up. Just you watch…!”
Why was that her reaction?
She sighed with exasperation, but then smiled.
She was very fond of her two stupid junior magicians.
And feeling now, that she was just as much of a fool, she wished them both much happiness in their lives.
“I’m sorry. I was defeated.”
In the waiting room after the match.
Evangeline replied to Estelle’s words.
“It is fine. Sometimes, it’s all about luck. It was not your day. That is all.”
She swirled the tea in her cup and continued.
“That being said, I’m sure that you were able to learn something from it. Mana level and years of experience are not everything. When it came to that fight, your thousand years did not match the desperation and amount of research he put into it.”
“Indeed. I did not suspect that he had spent so much time studying me, and preparing countermeasures.”
“It was impressive. He did it as if his entire life depended on that moment. That changes things. Perhaps he too has the potential to reach my level.”
“You mean, just like the small one?”
Evangeline nodded as if it was nothing.
“Forgive me, Your Majesty, but I do not think she is that strong. There is no doubt that she is gifted. She may become a great magician, and leave her mark on the history of humans. However, reaching your level is a different matter…”
“I understand why you would feel that way. Most people would probably agree with you. However, what is important is what you cannot see. I have high hopes for the beast that sleeps deep within her.”
“Yes. She has something that I cannot see, and that cannot be measured.”
After that, Evangeline laughed as if she was a child on the night before her birthday.
“And I want to draw it out. Oh, it will be so delightful!”
◇ ◇ ◇
And the World Trophy tournament continued.
Now that Luke had defeated the previous runner up, and advanced into the quarter-finals, he was attracting attention as a possible candidate to win the tournament.
I was going to be left behind…
It went without saying that after witnessing it, I became very frantic.
Losing to others was fine…no, I hated that too. I did.
But Luke. He was someone that I absolutely could not bear to lose against.
At this point, I could not afford to be selective when it came to means.
I had to catch up at all costs…!
Magic punches (Physical) and magic headbutts (Physical) had helped me take some powerful magicians by surprise, allowing me to advance.
This completely different fighting style had earned me a reputation of being dangerous, and children in the city would often talk to me and say, ‘your headbutt was amazing!’
And while I did not really appreciate such remarks, I was also a mature and elegant lady, who could accept them with warm smiles.
Now, I needed to continue to train so that I could meet everyone’s expectations!
Currently, I was trying to do the time magic that the president had shown me.
That beautiful, golden magic.
I wanted to be able to draw such formulas.
And so I tried my best to copy it, but it was not going well.
“Hmmm, I was quite sure that the structure was like this…”
I stared and inspected the magic.
“Hmm. It’s very well made. I doubt there are many who could recreate something to this level after just seeing it once.”
The swaying mauve hair. The scent of water lilies.
I was shocked to find the president suddenly standing right next to me.
“You don’t need to be so nervous. Just call me Chronos, as if I was just some young man.”
“N-no, I couldn’t…”
“No one wants to. How sad.”
The president looked quite disappointed, but then continued.
“The reason it does not activate is because it is not yours. The formula structure was made by me, and optimized for me. Physique, habits, mana levels, mana control precision, arm length, speed, bone structure, muscles…everything was considered when making it. And so it won’t work well even if you do it.”
He said in a calm voice.
“The important thing is to draw one that is your own. Like drawing on a blank canvas, you must create your own formula. With love in every detail, and with a prayer, you turn yourself in a shape. Also, you must keep trying and keep failing.”
“Leave it to me! I’m good at that kind of thing!”
“Yes, I have high expectations for you.”
The president said with a gentle nod.
“However, I came here today to make a small request. I had other options of course, but thought it would be best to ask you.”
“A request? What is it?”
“It’s about your friend, Luke.”
“Ah, he’s getting carried away because people think he could win. Very well, I shall knock him down a few pegs for you.”
“No, that’s not it.”
Then what could it be?
As I wondered about this, I suddenly noticed something.
What it was that the President was concerned about.
And why Ms. Leticia was watching closely while Luke trained.
If he was hiding it, then I would pretend that I didn’t notice.
That’s what I had thought, and had averted my eyes.
“Are you talking about his injury?”
“So you noticed as well.”
“Of course. I’ve known him for a long time, after all.”
“Yes. It is probably deep in his back, where healing magic will not reach. His backbones must be damaged.”
Even though I did not know much about magic medicine, I had a feeling that it was not a simple injury.
“Currently, there are no serious symptoms. Judging by the way he moves, he would heal completely if he rested for a month. However, things will be different if his condition worsens in battle.”
Said President Cronos.
“It’s possible that he will not even be able to stand. He may not be able to use magic either. And so it will be impossible for him to continue working as a Royal Magician.”
Luke, not able to be a Royal Magician?
Those words shook me terribly.
I told myself to keep it together.
I didn’t want to get swept away in emotion and make the wrong decision.
He was my friend, and I had to do what was best for him.
“I understand. I will talk to him.”
In the lodging house after dinner.
I knocked on the door to Luke’s room.
“I wanted to talk to you.”
Luke looked a little puzzled.
However, he seemed to sense something after I told him that it was important.
And so he let me in.
I could smell elegant and mildly sweet soap.
It was him.
“You know, Luke. You’re hiding an injury, aren’t you?”
He was silent for a moment, and then nodded with a ‘Yes.’
“I pretended that I didn’t notice. Ms. Leticia was the same, I think. I knew that I should stop you, but I couldn’t. Because I knew what all of this meant to you. How you prepared for it more than anyone.”
“This tournament has a special meaning to you, doesn’t it? I suppose it’s related to the important thing that you talked about before. That dream that you want to make true.”
I chose my words carefully as I continued.
“I’m not sure what the answer is. I don’t want you to be reckless. I’m scared that things will get worse, and there will be no going back. I don’t want you to lose the ability to walk, and your position as a Royal Magician. But if this dream is that important to you, if you are like me, back when I was a magic artificer, and feel like you would no longer be yourself if you give up… I think it’s my job as your friend to support you. That’s how I feel.”
Luke didn’t say anything.
“And so tell me. So I will know the answer. So don’t regret the decision.”
“What is this important thing that you want so much?”