Chapter 171 – Cooperation
“Please withdraw your designation of Noelle as Head Magician of the Kingsguard.”
It was two weeks after the meeting where the announcement had been made regarding Unit 7.
Prince Michael’s office.
Luke spoke in a quiet voice.
“And if I refuse?”
“Of course, I understand the strong desire to keep Noelle close by, Your Highness. And I understand that objecting to that wish perhaps goes against my duties as a Royal Magician. However, I wanted to tell you that it would be the best decision to withdraw it. And such a decision would be in your best interest.”
“I see. That is quite interesting.”
The prince said with a smile.
“Would you care to elaborate?”
“Your Highness wishes to keep Noelle close by, because of her power, and you believe she has great potential. And this could help you in dealing with Ardenfeld’s unknown enemies. Starting with the Viceroza grand dungeon, this country has numerous valuable resources within its untouched territories. And those who have come to realize it are starting to move. We have seen ample signs of this.”
“Noelle can be an effective card against such a threat. So you wish to keep her close by and raise her. Make the young genius into one of the greatest magicians in this kingdom’s history. That is your goal, isn’t it, Your Highness?”
“Good. You are on the right track.”
Prince Michael looked pleased.
“Let us pretend for a moment that what you said is all true. How exactly would you accomplish my wishes?”
“I will cooperate with your plan. As a friend who knows her better than anyone, I can help guide her. I can make her into the greatest magician, in the way that suits her the best. Additionally, it would be much better for us to work together.”
“You are saying that aside from Noelle Springfield, I will effectively have you, the leader of the new unit, under my direct command?”
Luke nodded quietly.
“I promise to cooperate to the best of my ability. However, I will still make the final decisions for my unit.”
“An interesting suggestion. But there are a few things I need to confirm.”
“What is that?”
“If you and your unit have that much worth. The youngest Captain and Vice-captain. You must know that many people have their doubts about you. Will you really be able to prove them all wrong?”
The room was quiet for a moment.
After the silence, Luke spoke.
“The incident with Count Wilhelm. They had a special relic, the Magician Killer, which was very similar to the one used during the attack against Evangeline Runeforest. You were using the Kingsguard to find out where it came from.”
“Indeed. And I acquired some interesting information.”
“But it hasn’t led to anyone’s capture.”
“And do you have something we don’t?”
Luke placed a sheet of paper on the prince’s desk.
Prince Michael looked down at it and fell silent.
“What do you think about that?”
“I agree with Your Highness. He was connected with Ardenfeld’s enemies. If you follow that route, then you should be able to find the person behind it all.”
“Have you spoken to anyone else about this?”
“Ernest. And I will speak to one other person, to see if I can get their help.”
“Not Noelle Springfield?”
“I would like to wait and get a better grasp of the situation first. After all, she is not good with keeping secrets.”
The prince pondered on that for a moment.
“The President of the Royal Magians Order, Cronos Casablancas, conducted a time magic experiment about two months ago. His fourth in total. During past experiments, he was swallowed up into unknown worlds and took years to return. And just like those times, we have lost all contact with him since he started.”
“So it is likely that he won’t return for years.”
“Indeed. Perhaps the enemy knows this, and is acting.”
The prince looked intently at Luke.
“It almost seems like too much for a new unit to handle.”
“I assure you, I am more reliable than your pets.”
“You are that confident?”
“One might say that. I will prove it with results. “
“Well then, I look forward to it.”
Said the prince.
“I hope that you will bring me a good report, Luke Walstein.”
After the meeting, Luke thought as he walked in the special section of the palace.
(I won’t let you take Noelle.)
But on the other hand, he also saw that his position was even more difficult than he first realized.
The cold gazes he felt while in the meeting with the nobles.
‘In the current state, where royal finances are not favorable, it seems quite unnecessary to create a new unit.’
‘Before considering tax reforms for the nobility, surely there are more pressing matters to attend to?’
‘Even though it will be a small unit, we are talking about the least experienced and youngest Captain and Vice-captain. The Vice-captain hasn’t even been here for a year, from what I heard.’
‘I’m sure you understood, clever as you are, what will happen if we don’t see results.’
He knew there would be objections.
He had even worked behind the scenes, finding their weaknesses and using them.
Even then, the reality was that at least eighty percent of the palace royals were against the creation of the new unit.
As if someone had ensured it in advance.
(I did wonder if it was the prince, but judging by that reaction, it is not. It must be someone else who has immense influence in the aristocratic world.)
Luke bit his lip and continued to think.
(The Three Houses…)
There were three great houses among the nobles, which wielded immense influence.
(The most realistic possibility is that House Albarn and House Eniagram are not pleased to see a Waldstein become the Captain.)
If two of the great houses became enemies, then it was only natural for more than half of the nobles to turn against him.
Besides, Luke was on bad terms with his own family, so he could not expect their support. That put him in a very bad situation.
However, giving up was not an option for him either.
There was something he wanted no matter what, and he was willing to sacrifice everything else for it.
The dream that could not come true.
Luke Walstein had to become a Magus-Rank magician. The greatest magician in the kingdom. And his family would not be able to object.
He needed to become a person who could make her happy.
And acquire that future where they could be together.
He would do anything for that.
Even if he made enemies of everyone else, he would continue.
There was no doubt in his sapphire blue eyes.
With head raised, he made his way to the Royal Magicians Order Headquarters.
(If anyone will cooperate with me, it is…)
“This is unusual. You, paying me a visit.”
The office of the 3rd Unit Vice-captain.
Leticia Risettestone looked at Luke with some surprise.
“I need your help. You have much knowledge of what happens behind the scenes among the nobles, and have the greatest investigative abilities in the Magicians Order.”
Leticia shook her head.
“You overestimate me. There are many others who are better.”
“At the very least, the nobles I have on a leash are scared of you.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“Out of the people I can rely on, you are the most capable.”
“Well, your ability to move people has improved a little.”
“I mean it.”
“I’m saying that you learned to make use of real feelings.”
“Captain Gawain and you were good teachers.”
He was not lying.
He must have been aiming to become Captain from the start, and so he purposely honed his abilities in that direction.
His wish was making him grow rapidly.
When he first joined the order, he was like a sharp knife, who acted like he never needed anyone. But he was like a different person now.
He had learned to deal with people to the point where he could fulfill his role as a Captain.
(But at the same time, he is also in danger. A new Unit with inexperienced members. Who knows how things will turn out…)
Still, he knew more than anyone how difficult the position he was in was.
So many of the nobles were against him now.
And he had few allies.
Considering Leticia already had her share of enemies, it did not seem too wise to cooperate with Luke now.
But even with all of that, it did not take her long to make a decision.
(After all, he did help me with the Count Wilhelm incident.)
“Very well. I will help you.”
“Thank you. I’m very grateful.”
“So, how do you mean to turn this thing around?”
Luke pulled some documents from his pocket and handed them to Leticia as he explained the situation.
That there existed an entity operating in the shadows. It targeted the Ardenfeld Kingdom, as it potentially held numerous valuable resources in its unexplored territories.
They orchestrated the assassination attempt during the Red Rose Ball, the Goblin Emperor incident in the Misty Forest, and caused the rampage of the wyverns in the western frontier. The criminal organization, ‘Twilight’ had also provided covert support to Count Wilhelm.
“I cannot believe it. This sounds like a conspiracy theory.”
“I wish that it was. However, proof is starting to appear. Prince Michael is also using his men to pursue them.”
“If it is true, then this country will be in great danger.”
“And so if I can uncover them, then the opposition of the nobles will die down at once.”
Leticia thought about it for a moment.
“Let us say they do exist then. The problem is, just how far they have burrowed into this country. They seem to have connected with Count Wilhelm, who had great influence in the High Court. So it would be natural to assume they have connections with other country nobles as well. Additionally, it is quite likely that they have contacted powerful nobles within the palace.”
“I am sure there has been contact. The ones near the royal family will be the most dangerous. As they will be the ones they would want to approach the most. There is a lot of merit in being connected. And so that would mean…”
“The great three?”
“Impossible. They could not have infiltrated that deeply already.”
“Most people would agree with you. However, as someone who was raised in one of those houses, I see things differently.
Luke said quietly.
“I always had a bad feeling about it. They move much too quickly. Perhaps they knew that if the Royal Magicians Order were to become more powerful, people would find out that they were connected with the kingdom’s enemies. Such concerns would explain a lot.”
Leticia was speechless.
And so she considered the possibilities that were presented.
The three houses that had immense influence within noble society.
These were people that a Royal Magician should not cross.
Besides, who could this enemy be, if they had persuaded such houses to cooperate against the royal family?
A chill ran down her neck.
“If that is true, this will be the most dangerous investigation of your life.”
“I hope it is.”
Luke stated without hesitation.
And she knew at once that there was no stopping him.
(He really is in danger.)
She sighed and thought about it.
It was not too late to change her mind.
However, Leticia was already thinking about the person who she respected more than anyone.
Her beloved teacher. He would have helped.
No matter who the enemy was, he would do what he thought was right.
“How will we split the work?”
“I want you to look into Albarn and Eniagram.”
“I will do that.”
He said firmly.
“Are you sure? Emotion might affect your judgment. One mistake on your end, and it might look like you were trying to cover for or protect your own.”
“I would not do that. If anything, the opposite is more likely.”
Luke shook his head with a smile.
It was the kind of look that reminded her of how he was when he first joined.
“Please tell me as soon as you find something.”
“Aren’t you going to ask Captain Gawain for help as well?”
“I will just tell him that you are helping me. Knowing him, he will act from there on his own.”
“Really… You have become good at manipulating people.”
“After all, you are special for Mr. Gawain.”
She couldn’t quite grasp what he meant just then.
“It’s true that we have known each other for a long time, but he is kind to all of his friends. You know that.”
“Ms. Leticia, I think you should be aware of your surroundings a little more. That is advice from someone who also sacrificed a lot for a single goal.”
Luke said with a grin.
“I’ll be relying on you then.”
After he left, Leticia held a hand up to her mouth and thought about his words.
He could have just been joking, but there was something there that felt persuasive as well.
(Does he know something about the Captain that I do not?)
She wondered in the silent room.
And she continued to think about it for quite some time.