Zich and Lyla were locked inside a secluded mansion. It wasn’t a massive and fancy place like Dwayne’s mansion, but it was a nice building. They were each locked inside separate rooms. The rooms were full of furniture, and they didn’t really face any inconveniences besides boredom. However, they had to admit that the interrogation that they got from time to time was quite annoying.
“So, I’m sure there’s a reason why you both went there!” A scar stretched diagonally from his wide shoulders to his chin and cheeks. His hair was rough like the fur of a wild boar and his thick eyebrows resembled pine caterpillars. A man who looked like he would intimidate any child and even a big adult shouted at Zich. It was clear that the interrogator’s main tactic was to extract information by crushing his suspect’s spirit with his scary appearance.
However, this method, which would’ve worked on most people and even those who were courageous didn’t work on Zich.
“I went on a walk.” While leaning his back against his chair and crossing his arms and legs, Zich repeated the same answer he had been saying. The man’s eyebrows twitched.
“…Are you kidding me?”
“Do you think I’m joking? How unexpected. I am cooperating to the best of my ability.”
“How could you suddenly go on a walk in a deserted area outside the city? Do you think that makes any sense!”
“How thick-headed can you be? People have different personalities. Like there are people with extroverted personalities, and there are also people with introverted personalities. Just like how there are some people who like the fancy lifestyle of cities, some enjoy the plain, humble lifestyle of the country.”
“So, you are saying that you guys are the type of people who like to take walks in a deserted forest?” the man continued and Zich smiled.
“No, we just felt like doing that at the moment.”
The man slammed his fist down on the table. The table made a loud sound as it shook, and there was a small indent on its surface. Zich scowled.
“How noisy. Please give me a signal when you are going to slam the table next time. I want to block my ears beforehand.”
“…You are overflowing with confidence, aren’t you?”
“Of course! Without my confidence, there will be little left of my existence!”
Grip! The man grabbed Zich’s collar and pulled him. Unexpectedly, Zich let himself get pulled without any resistance.
“Hey, you bastard. Listen to my words carefully.”
The smell of the man’s breath flowed right into his face, so Zich blocked his nose. This made the man’s expression turn even more grim. However, there was no more violence, and the man simply growled as he spat, “Wake up to reality if you are acting cocky because of Lady Dwayne. No one is on your side right now.”
“You are saying that to us when we are clearly the victims in this situation? Wow, I guess everyone in the magical tower is rotten to the core, huh?”
The man’s attitude didn’t change in response to Zich’s jeering.
“Who’s going to believe you? Your opponent is one of the magical tower’s top families. And their eyes are flipped upside down right now because of what you have done to their heir. Compared to that, you guys are just wanderers. It seems like you guys have some skills, but that’s it.”
“So, they are going to make us into sacrificial pawns?”
The man smirked. “It doesn’t matter who started this fight. Even if the young master of the Jaewick family ambushed you like you guys claim, it’s certain that you will be punished. I mean you tortured their heir. If you didn’t do just that, the situation might have been a bit better.”
“Do other people at the magical tower think the same?”
“I’m not sure. Some might consider you guys as an eye-sore like the Jaewick family and some might sympathize with you guys. However, the point is, no one would be willing to go head-to-head against the Jaewick family for wanderers like you. A beast blinded by his rage will bite first without considering who their opponent is.”
“Then, what are you doing right now? Whether you torture me or manipulate my words, can’t you just put me on a death row?”
The man’s face distorted a bit. He clearly had the look of a person frustrated that things weren’t going his way. Zich smirked.
“Ah, it seems Ms. Elena is making quite an effort for her teacher and her friend. No, is it more like her father?”
“…Even if that’s true, nothing will change.” The man didn’t deny Zich’s claims, but he didn’t back down any more than necessary. “It’s just a matter of time. You guys can’t be under their protection forever. Moreover, the only one who can protect you guys is just Orland Dwayne. The magical tower is remaining strictly neutral, but that won’t last long.”
“So, what are you requesting? It seems I won’t be able to escape execution no matter what I say.”
“I’m just saying that we should both give each other an easy time.” The man smiled crookedly. “Even if you keep your mouth shut like this, the only thing waiting for you guys is terrible torture. Rather than endure that, isn’t it preferable to leave this world painlessly?”
“I see. It does make sense.”
The man’s face brightened slightly as Zich seemed to show signs of acceptance. However, Zich’s next words made his face instantly crumple up again.
“The problem is that I’m too much of an honest person. If I lie, thorns pop out of my tongue. Zich stuck his tongue out exaggeratedly, “As a consequence and totally against my will, I wouldn’t be able to accept your offer. I will always remember your kindness in my heart.”
Grit! The man gritted his teeth and pushed Zich. Zich fell backwards like he lost his balance and naturally landed on the chair. Then, he crossed his arms and legs like he did before.
“…You are quite the tough guy. I suppose that’s why you tortured Mawin Jaewick in the name of gathering information.”
“Truthfully, I am reflecting on that. He was such a wimp that he blabbered about things that I didn’t even ask him. I can’t believe a guy like that goes around acting like he’s someone important. I can’t help but worry about the future of the magical tower.”
“There’s no need for you to worry about the magical tower. Whatever the future may hold for the tower, you won’t be able to witness it.” The man turned around and headed towards the door.
“Is it already over for today? There was nothing much, even less than I thought. Come and play with me next time too. Playing with you was more fun than I expected.”
“The next time I come…” The man turned his head around with his hand on the doorknob. He glared at Zich with a chilly gaze. “There would no longer be a power backing you up. I really look forward to that day.”
The door closed. Zich heard the sound of the lock tightly close, and the loud sound of the man’s footsteps slowly disappeared.
“Ah, I had fun!” Zich crossed his fingers and held up the back of his head as he leaned back.
‘There’s really nothing more fun than making fun of the guards or interrogators when I’m locked up.’
Despite the interrogator’s intense frustration as he tried his hardest to stay in power and get information from Zich, this interrogation was nothing more than a game for Zich.
‘Even though this is a necessary step, it’s really boring.’
Zich let out a big yawn. He put his foot on top of a table and let his arms relax to the side. Anyone could see that he was just trying to kill time.
‘I wonder what Lyla is doing.’
Zich infused mana into his ear. He was now able to hear sounds beyond the walls of his room. Even though Zich and Lyla’s rooms were separated from each other, this was not an obstacle to Zich.
‘It seems like they haven’t finished their interrogation yet.’
However, it seemed as if the interrogation was not going well just like Zich’s case. The interrogator loudly shouted his questions, but he received no answers. Zich cackled as he finished assessing the situation.
‘She’s completely ignoring him.’
Even though Zich couldn’t see them, he could clearly picture what the situation probably looked like. The sound of the interrogator shouting lasted for a few more minutes.
The house shook a bit; something crashed into the ground. Zich burst out in laughter.
‘She really did it! She gave him a good hit!’
The interrogator got angry at Lyla’s attitude and probably rushed towards her, and Zich was sure that Lyla had slammed him into the ground. Judging by the interrogator’s awful screams, the pain he was experiencing was probably extraordinary. Zich heard a door open, and he sensed a person desperately running away. Zich laughed for a good while.
‘Ha, I was able to watch such a good scene.’
It was hard to say he ‘watched’ this scene, but what mattered to Zich was that he had a good time. However, that was all the fun things he could do. His interrogator was gone, and Lyla’s interrogator ran away. His surroundings were quiet again. Zich skillfully tilted his chair so that only one of its legs stood on the ground, and he spun around.
‘I guess I’ll have to stay bored like this for a while.’
However, if Zich’s prediction was right, he won’t have to stay like this for long. ‘Well, start moving, my friends. You have to deepen the rift between the Dwayne and Jaewick family.’
Zich was sure that the instigator of this entire scheme would soon start moving again. He got up to find something to do to pass the time.
* * *
After Zich and Lyla were captured, Elena’s mood became very melancholy. She thought that they were captured all because of her. Moreover, her heart turned even more blue, because her grandfather, whom she thought would use his powers to get them out, took such a neutral stance.
Snoc also stopped coming to the Dwayne mansion. Even though Snoc’s magical beast contractor, Nowem, had played a huge part in her magic students recently, it was ridiculous to continue her studies in this kind of situation. Moreover, even if Snoc did come to the Dwayne mansion, Elena felt too guilty to see his face.
‘Everything will turn out fine.’
While maintaining this desperate hope, Elena stayed in the mansion the whole time. Since Zich and Lyla were taken, her grandfather had not returned to the mansion. With so few people in the mansion, it now felt haunted. The only source of comfort that Elena had was her father who sometimes came to the mansion to check up on her.
Elena had no appetite, so she fidgeted with her utensils a few times and went back to her room. She flipped through the magic book that Lyla had bought her and let out a huge sigh. She couldn’t focus on the magic books she enjoyed reading so much. Elena looked outside her window and stared at the moon in the night sky. How did time pass by so quickly? Elena closed her book. She sat on the edge of her bed and continued to stare at the night sky.
‘It was really fun back then.’
A couple of days ago, there was a day when her magic lessons had ended a bit later than usual. When the sky was beginning to darken, Lyla, Zich, Snoc, Nowem, and Elena all stared at the night sky. Lyla had told Elena mythologies about magic and constellations in the sky with her gentle and caring voice, and Zich had intervened once in a while and laughed out loud like usual. Snoc had quietly listened to Lyla’s stories like Elena, and Nowem had fallen asleep on Elena’s knees.
It was a happy memory that felt like it would appear if she just turned her head to the side. However, this memory felt like an illusion that happened in the far past; like a distant childhood memory when her mother, father, and grandfather were all together, she believed that her mana would be awakened soon. Elena wiped the tears that slightly formed around her eyes and was about to lie down on the bed when—
She discovered the shadow of a mysterious figure standing right next to her.Previous Chapter Next Chapter