“Get out of my way. I don’t have time to deal with you.”
Altugius felt his stomach burning a hole in itself from impatience, but Kaz walked leisurely with a chilling aura about him as though he knew of the exact situation.
“I had always been curious about this… How did some pathetic mage manage to kill the Assassin Guild’s vice-captain?”
Altugius tried to move past him in hopes to salvage even a second of time, but the assassin named Kaz stood in his path once again as to obstruct him purposely.
“Disappear from my sight if you don’t want to die.”
“It looks like that mage was telling the truth. Looking how you’re so impatient with your weakness exposed.”
Kaz made a sinister smile as he approached Altugius.
“That mage? Who are you talking about?”
Altugius’ face grew ugly. He already knew the answer.
‘Leonard. That bastard. Did he actually…?!’
The assassin pulled out two blades and released his chilling aura instead of a proper answer.
The cold blade flashed in front of Altugius’ eyes.
It was the moment when he broke through the sound sealing barrier.
A corner of the second floor came crashing down. Sungchul saw wooden planks flying about and realised that a battle was taking place within the House of Recollections.
‘Who’s fighting whom?’
Through the newly created hole on the floor, he witnessed a blonde girl in robes escaping while deploying magic formations. It was Sarasa.
The man chasing her from behind was wearing a red uniform.
‘Isn’t that Leonard?’
He was laughing maniacally as he poured Glare toward Sarasa without restraint.
“Eeehehehe! Die! Die!!”
They disappeared to the far side of the hold, and another blast of sound struck the ear drums.
Sungchul broke through the second floor hole and saw them. Sarasa and Leonard were both glaring at each other and continuing their fight. The decorum of battle had yet to break down, and also, it wouldn’t be too late to intervene later. Sungchul erased his presence and disappeared into the darkness.
“Why are you attacking me?”
Sarasa spat out a breath of cold air as she asked her question. Leonard answered with a smiling face.
“I don’t have any personal feelings towards you one way or the other. What could I want from a corpse like yourself?”
Sungchul thought on that reply. There had to be a reason for Leonard’s sudden action. He always looked to be mentally on edge, but he was no fool. At the very least, he should be aware that a vigilance seal was protecting Sarasa’s residence, and that disturbing her would cause the terrifying Altugius to charge over right away. There had to be a reason for which he still initiated this situation.
Sungchul discovered the reason from Leonard’s appearance. His face had a bluish tint like that of a zombie. Also, his clothes had been torn away at the shoulder revealing bumpy holes along his backside. Sungchul knew what this meant.
‘Someone planted some venomous bugs inside his body. It looks like the handiwork of the Grimada Family of the Four Families of the Assassin’s Guild, but why is he also missing an ear?’
The insect eggs embedded into the body. The torn off ear. Sungchul immediately came to a simple conclusion that combined both of these facts.
‘The Assassin’s Guild has involved itself.’
There was no way to determine the reason for their involvement, nor should one ever try to find out. They were a group that would do anything for proper compensation, and they would kill anyone for any number of reasons.
“I’m not the bad guy here. It’s your gramps that’s the villain. If that old bag had just taught me the Secret of Cosmomancy, it wouldn’t have had to come to this.”
Leonard Sanctum was letting out flames from his staff for intimidation. On the other hand, Sarasa stood as still as ice surrounded herself, glaring back at him with a chilling stare. But she was unable to bring the full extent of her might to bear.
It was due to a small scratch left on her face. Leonard had aimed for her face during his ambush and disrupted a portion of the preservation magic put on her body.
Such a small wound would appear harmless, but it was actually a fatal strike against Sarasa since utilizing a large amount of mana while the preservation magic was in disarray would lead to an extremely rapid decay of her face. It was a cheap and cowardly trick fitting of Leonard.
Sarasa, who didn’t want to lose her face, could only remain defensive.
‘If I can drag this one, it’ll be my victory.’
The Sky Squirrel in Sarasa’s pocket was suffering from the frosty air surrounding her. She whispered in a small voice.
“Please hold on a bit longer…”
She glared at Leonard who was mocking her and suddenly gathered her magic power.
A wall of ice unfolded between Leonard and Sarasa. Sarasa attempted to retreat at that moment quickly, but Leonard shattered it with a blast of magic power as soon as the wall was erected as though he had been anticipating it.
“Where are you off to?! Let’s play some more! Meat puppet!”
Sarasa still wasn’t exerting all of her strength, but she expertly fended off Leonard’s attacks. However, her skin was losing its vigour and began wrinkling as the battle went on. A small bit of respite came after a lengthy exchange of blows and neither were seriously hurt, but Sarasa was clearly exhausted.
However, Sarasa did not lose her fighting spirit. She had someone to trust.
‘If I hold on a bit longer, Grampa will come.’
It was at that moment Leonard opened his mouth.
“Are you perhaps thinking it’ll be okay if you buy some time?”
He struck the heart of the matter.
Sarasa’s eyes that contained a glowing blue light glared at Leonard. He smirked before spilling his spiel.
“Stupid. No matter how long you wait, Altugius isn’t coming.”
When she heard this, Sarasa’s eyes shook violently.
“What are you talking about?”
“Someone real scary is planning on getting in his way. There is also a sound sealing barrier cast outside. No one will come to help you nor save you.”
Leonard, who could wield two magic markings, held a ball of light in one hand and a ball of fire in the other. He was now prepared to finish her off.
“Why do you think I assaulted you? Wouldn’t I have come at you before otherwise? Now that things have gotten this far, I don’t plan on showing you any mercy.”
“Do as you will.”
Sarasa’s eyes radiated a chilling light. Leonard let out a laugh.
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do to you. Listen carefully. I’m going to take you down and make a piece of art while you still hold breath.”
“A piece of art?”
“Yep. An awe-striking masterpiece that will be enough to sweep that old man off his feet.”
Leonard’s eyes became dyed in lunacy.
Sarasa spat back coldly, but it had shaken her. The lunacy in Leonard’s eyes held no doubt.
“I’ll say this again, but you have no fault in this. If you want to blame anyone, blame your gramps. The same gramps that turned me into this!”
Sarasa gathered all the magic power available to block the combination of light and fire, but she felt strained. Something unexpected also occurred.
The Sky Squirrel couldn’t endure the chill any longer and fainted. Sarasa, who could feel this, lost her concentration and was lightly tossed toward a wall with a scream. The fight had ended.
Leonard walked toward Sarasa.
“Should I call this the silver lining? I really thought the world was ending when that fucker beat me, put eggs in my body, and cut off my ear. Who could have thought that it was a shortcut to such sweet revenge?”
Leonard had a greater hatred for Altugius’ relative than for the assassin who had cut off his ear. It was due to the grudge from what he believed to be Altugius’ betrayal added by the rationale that none of this would have occurred if Altugius hadn’t cast him out.
“Don’t fret. Once I kill the lot of you, I’ll soon follow.”
Sarasa asked with a pained expression.
“There is no way that guy will stand by once he figures out that you guys have nothing to do with the World’s Enemy. Well, maybe it’s better this way. I can haunt you guys after death.”
Leonard pulled out a single blade in his possession.
“Now, what kind of masterpiece shall I make!”
As Leonard’s blade flashed, a man revealed himself from the shadows.
Leonard felt the sudden presence and turned around. His eyes overflowing with lunacy shook violently. It was Sungchul.
“Who is this?”
Leonard abandoned Sarasa and headed to Sungchul like a predator who found a tastier prey.
“I was meaning to find you for some fun.”
“Just answer my question.”
Sungchul suddenly spoke.
“You said that the assassin was looking for the World’s Enemy. Is this correct?”
Leonard laughed instead of replying.
“What does it matter to a fucker like…”
It was as he was about to finish his sentence, Sungchul’s crude hand wrapped around Leonard’s face and he plummeted him toward the ground. The floor shattered and Leonard’s face was embedded halfway into the floor.
Fear flashed across Leonard’s face, but it was already too late for regrets. Sungchul grabbed his head and smashed it onto the floor.
Smash! Smash! Smash!
It continued repeatedly. Indecipherable whimper spilt out of Leonard’s mouth.
“S-save me! S…v…! Me!”
Sungchul relaxed the grip on his head. Instead, he grabbed Leonard’s body and stomped on the places that the venomous bugs had planted their eggs with his military boots.
The insects embedded into Leonard’s body writhed violently on being squashed by Sungchul’s military boots. Every time they were thrashed, it transferred directly into Leonard as pain.
Leonard twisted his body wildly like a beast struck by lightning. Sarasa held the Sky Squirrel with both hands and watched the scene with concern and surprise.
After a series of torture had ended, Sungchul once again asked his question to Leonard.
“Answer me, mage. If you don’t remember my question, I’ll gladly remind you.”
Leonard choked on some air before spitting out his answer as soon as Sungchul’s question finished.
“T-That’s right! That guy… he was looking for the World’s Enemy! He asked… where the World’s Enemy was… and for me to find him… that’s why…”
He was already halfway gone. Sungchul held Leonard’s right arm and pulled it off.
The presence of magic is known to be varied among people, but it is commonly gathered in the right hand. As such, those without the use of their right hand cannot use magic.
Sungchul tossed Leonard, who had become an invalid, to the side and approached Sarasa.
“Are you injured?”
“No injuries, but… who are you?”
Sarasa’s eyes sparkled.
“… I am a passing freshman.”
At that moment, he could hear a familiar shout.
“Sarasa! Sarasa! Are you here?”
It was Altugius’s voice. It was ragged and out of breath, but the vigour behind it was unchanged. Sungchul noticed a dark fog following behind him.
‘Is that the assassin?’
Sungchul extended a hand toward Sarasa.
“Go and tell your grandfather of your state.”
Sarasa nodded and grabbed his hand. It was rough and sophisticated, but it was a dependable hand. Holding Sungchul’s hand, she righted herself before approaching the dormitory window and waved to her grandfather.
“Grampa! Here! Over here! I’m fine!”
Altugius who had been wandering the yard heard her voice and raised his head. After confirming her safety, a small tear formed in his eyes. However, it was only a brief moment before he poured out a fearsome aura as he turned around.
“Now, shall we start this for real?”
The dark fog following Altugius dissipated as soon as he heard those words.
“Mmm. That useless bastard. Looks like he failed.”
Kaz who had been bothering Altugius as a fog returned to his human form and retreated a step. He looked as though he had lost interest and looked towards Sarasa.
He noticed a certain man. Kaz combed through his memories to recall that the man was at the School of Cosmomancy building. It was the most worthless of the three, but he could feel some strange presence from the man that he couldn’t quite place. The feeling didn’t last long as a powerful Glare shot from Altugius was aiming to take his life.
Kaz returned to his fog form before leisurely leaving the scene. Once Altugius confirmed that his enemy had left, he ran over to Sarasa’s side. An emotional reunion soon followed.
Sungchul took a step back and watched their reunion with indifferent eyes.
“Leonard Sanctum. How dare you do such a thing.”
Altugius, who heard the whole story, looked over at Leonard who was half dead with eyes full of pity.
“When I first saw you, I thought of you as a rough gemstone. You had outstanding talent and potential, and I figured you were someone who was good enough to take up my mantle within Airfruit.”
Realising that his former student’s death was not far, Altugius unhesitatingly poured out his heart. Leonard, who had been slumped over letting out an incoherent whimper, trembled weakly.
“But, you couldn’t hold yourself back and committed too many sins. God has given you talent, but he has also given you an utterly lacking container for such talents. Leonard Sanctum. This is all I have to say to you.”
Could he have truly understood the meaning behind Altugius’ words?
Leonard was hunched over like a shrimp and let out an indecipherable scream. Something was crawling out of his back. It was a stinkbug with a pattern sparkling like a jewel. Sungchul didn’t hesitate in walking over Leonard’s corpse and stomped on the stinkbug.
“Did you… save my granddaughter?”
Altugius spoke to Sungchul with a shaking voice. Sungchul nodded.
“But.. How could you… he should have been an opponent that you couldn’t win against.”
“That’s not important. What I want is one thing only: the Secret of Cosmomancy.”
Altugius could see it once again. The eyes of Sungchul were firm and determined, unclouded by doubt.
‘Just who could this man be?’
It was something he could never know even if dozens of years had passed. The only thing he was sure of was that the man was destined for greatness in the field of magic. Altugius decided to not refuse that fate any longer and nodded.
“Fine. In return for saving my granddaughter, who is to say anything about handing over a Secret of a dying school. I’m not sure if it’ll be enough to repay you.”
The Secret of Cosmomancy was finally in his grasp, but at that moment, Sungchul could hear the noise of countless military boots entering the sound sealing barrier.
The Sky Squirrel cried out nervously from Sarasa’s grasp. Soon, Sungchul’s companions could confirm the identity of the unwelcome guest.
It was the minions of the Inquisitor of Heresy. The man had unfurled a long scroll and began to shout loudly.
“You have been charged with heresy and/or abetting heresy along with the crime of murder of a devout follower and 13 other criminal charges, and thus we have come to apprehend you.”