Glowing symbols hovered around the pillars. It was the magic Erna had cast to draw out the power of the two pillars.
“Shouldn’t I have done it?” Erna asked herself as she stared at the pillars with a sad smile. She had no idea the pillars would become like these when she cast a new spell to draw out their power. Fortunately, extracting magic has been so far smooth.
Erna stared indifferently at the space around her. She approached the pillar with Kalion’s name and placed her hand on it. The pillar, which at first had gleamed brightly, now only emanated a faint light. The other pillar was no different, and it comforted Erna. The pillar’s reaction could not be depicting Kalion’s present state.
But Erna couldn’t silence the report she had heard which continued to ring in her ears.
“It’s useless,” Erna muttered in her resentful voice and hit the pillar with her hand until she could no longer feel pain.
It would be ridiculous if the first grand duke of Hessenguard saw her. Pouring out her resentment to what could be the most powerful weapon in the world. But the pillars didn’t tell Erna what mattered the most: whether or not Kalion was safe. Unless she knew, everything was useless.
Erna gazed at the magic she had created. She began to think of ways she could destroy the armies of the enemies. Though surrounded, Erna wasn’t overcome with worry. She was angry, yet calm. In the first place, she was the best wizard in the kingdom of Hessenguard. The Wizard’s Tower refused to acknowledge the fact, but among all the wizards in the continent, Erna’s prowess deserved the title of a great wizard. It would not have been impossible if such a wizard made an effort to slaughter thousands of armies.
It’s been noticed, Erna thought.
When Ruben suspected the magic of the Grand Castle had changed, her heart sank. He didn’t seem to notice anything other than that, fortunately. The pillars emanated a powerful force, but its magic remained unknown for nearly a thousand years. It shouldn’t be detectable now.
Large-scale magic contains a plethora of magical symbols which requires the conjurer extreme concentration to keep the magic intact, such as the magic Erna had summoned in the past to obliterate the masses of demons in Lake Haldis.
It was only in the lake region that Erna could draw such an intense magic without having to worry about other people. This time, it wasn’t the same. She could only be grateful she found a place hidden from the eyes of others. Ruben didn’t know of the pillars, but he was wary. He knew Erna was not the type to sit idly while her enemies flocked about her kingdom.
Erna returned to the castle and gazed at the capital through the windows. She had already ordered the immediate evacuation of the citizens. There is no need to spill the blood of innocent civilians in a war caused by self-interested nations.
In the morning, there was barely smoke from the bakeries graying the air in the city. Perhaps in a day or two, there wouldn’t be a single soul in the capital. That should be, Erna thought. To hasten the evacuation, she planned to mobilize the remaining knights to get them all out of the capital.
However, Erna knew that there were people who would stand by Hessenguard to the end. Erna turned her gaze and looked at the building of the Council next to the Grand Castle.
What should I do with Vanessa?
After thinking for a long time, Erna went to her desk and began to write a letter.
* * *
“Don’t tell me you will be evacuating, Chairman Vanessa.”
Adelaide sneered as she read the letter that Vanessa had brought. Normally, Vanessa would have responded with a polite smile, but there wasn’t a hint of friendliness in her face as she stared at Erna’s letter that was addressed to the entire Council.
Since the seat of Grand Duke Kalion, whose whereabouts are unknown, cannot remain vacant, a wedding will be held between Grand Duchess Erna and Prince Ruben of Aether. The Council received no invitation to the wedding, so they were no exception to the evacuation.
“My sister is getting out of hand,” muttered Adelaide. “We cannot agree to this. We must march into the capital to protest. The castle’s protective magic is…” Adelaide lowered her voice. “I have confirmed from the wizards of Haband that the magic has rapidly weakened for the past few days. A few attacks and it will probably break.”
Adelaide got up from her seat. “Today, I will prepare the ranks and immediately send in Haband’s army to prevent the wedding from taking place tomorrow.”
Adelaide stood by the window and stared at the Grand Castle. She had come to Hessenguard with the very purpose of claiming it. She couldn’t allow Erna to take everything that was supposed to be hers.
Vanessa still said nothing.
At long last, the morning of the wedding finally dawned.