What should I do? Kalion looked at the comfortable sofa and then back at the bed. He felt that he should go back to the sofa before Erna caught him by her since she’d made it crystal clear that he should sleep there. However, whenever he walked away from the bed, she groaned in pain. Kalion debated: should he achieve peace of mind for himself or peace for Erna’s body?
Naturally, his choice was the former and that’s the way that it should be. “This is driving me crazy!” He sighed heavily as he struggled to make a decision and sat down on the edge of the bed. Soon, he heard peaceful breathing behind him.
Okay, let me stay here, just this once.Because of what he’d done to her, he thought it was the least he could do and he hoped that it would alleviate some of the guilt he felt. Kalion was satisfied with his justification for doing this and he sat quietly next to Erna until he heard Orpé’s footsteps.
* * *
Since the day after Kalion and Erna had arrived, the wizards and knights had moved about frantically. They needed a more precise tactic to move forward with, as they were dealing with demons in a form that they’d never encountered before and the fear and uncertainty among them, was evident.
Erna, who sat in the drawing-room of her mansion and stared at the map for a long time, said firmly as if there is was no reconsideration needed, “The knights will only interfere with our movement.”
“That is true, but…” Orpé answered with a discontented look on her face and then decided not to continue with her thoughts on the matter.
A complex and unknown picture-like letter floated in the air, emanating a visible blue aura of light and Erna opened both her hands in front of her to receive it. It was the magic formula that she would be using tomorrow.
“Look here. Can you see its range?” Erna asked as she pointed at the detailed map.
“Even if you tell me to look there, it takes a while for me to find what you are pointing at!” Orpé pouted and looked at the area that Erna was trying to show her. There were complex letters of light rotating at different speeds.
Erna asked, with a bit of frustration as Orpé stared at it for an extended period, “You still haven’t found it?”
“It’s you who can find it ridiculously fast!” Orpé wanted to bang her chest in frustration when Erna stared back at her with an expression showing that she didn’t understand what she meant.
Erna was a so-called prodigy. A prodigy of magic no less. Besides the immensity of her innate magical power, she could also draw the very complex and elaborate magic formulas, without any difficulty, and she had an inherent ability to memorize them perfectly too.
The letters that made up the magic formulas were not from this world, and each letter was like a living creature. Some letters determined the nature of the magic power, and some letters determined the range in which the magic power could flow.
The combination of these letters created a magic formula, and the casting of magic was done by flowing magic power into these letters to make them move. At first glance, it didn’t seem to be a difficult task to perform, however, if letters were randomly written, the magic would be rendered useless. This was because, while there were letters that were compatible with each other, there were also letters that were contradictory to each other, and even the slightest misalignment in the arrangement of letters would result in the magic not being triggered.
Because of the complexities involved in the study of magic, the wizards preferred to learn from the Magic Tower. Since it was a place that contained the information that wizards had studied for thousands of years, one would most certainly be well-schooled there.
She can create with such sophistication, even though she’s not from the Magic Tower. Orpé looked at the magic formula Erna had drawn. Now that Orpé had become a skilled wizard, she could tell the level of sophistication by looking at the moving magic formula. Wizards usually made magic formulas using five to ten letters. I was able to do up to seventeen.To be honest, it wasn’t a spell that was properly cast, as she’d failed to control all seventeen characters. Even though she thought that she was one of the best-skilled wizards in Hessenguard, that was her limit. But how many characters are these?
Orpé observed the magic formula Erna had created perfectly. “Is it forty-one in total?”
“Yeah. I added one more character to my previous design, and there was no problem. The direction in which the magical energy ejects probably became more sophisticated.”
Orpé got goosebumps from her casual reply, she spoke as if she’d just said she added a bit more salt to roasting meat. Was it possible that Erna was stronger than the guardian of the Magic Tower?
After a while, Orpé found the letter that determined the range of magic that Erna spoke of. After looking at it for a while, she answered more seriously, “According to this letter, it seems Haldis and the entire lake area would be within range. It also seems that it can get inside the wall and push the demons out with its magical power and crush them. If this proves to be the case, then we won’t need the power of the knights as you said.”
“Exactly,” Erna replied confidently. “But this will take half a day to activate.”
Orpé placed the magic formula that was floating in the air, on her hand, and then threw it upwards and the letters of light instantly magnified as they illuminated the sky. The larger the range of the magic formula, the greater the amount of magical power required to activate it. If the preparation was finished today and they started activating it tomorrow morning, it seemed that this demon conquering wouldn’t be a problem and they’d be finished before sunset tomorrow.
“Then I will go and speak with Kalion’s lieutenant. Please rest in the meantime,” Orpé suggested.
“I’m okay. I slept well yesterday.”
“Really? Here? I had a bit of trouble sleeping because there as so many demons, but you were okay?”
“Strangely, I didn’t feel much and I slept soundly. It doesn’t matter since that’s a good thing… I don’t know what affected me before.”
As Erna started to ponder, Orpé collected the magic formula from the sky, handed it to Erna, and then left the room saying, “I’ll be right back.”
“Yes, good luck.”
After Orpé left, Erna laid down on the sofa in her parlor. It’s been said, that for a wizard to become less sensitive to the presence of demons, it’s good to be with knights. Erna had learned most of her magic from books. When she’d first felt her magical powers, she was given a mentor by Vanessa. The mentor taught her the basics well, but couldn’t teach her further. So, she started studying by herself, learning from the books on magic, in the library in the Grand Duke Castle.
The Magic Tower, which was famous for being closed to outsiders, had surprisingly published many books related to magic. Thanks to that, Erna was able to learn magic by reading those books and drawing magic formulas by herself. The Magic Tower would’ve been flabbergasted if they found out. Magic formulas were very sophisticated and three-dimensional. One could never replicate the sophistication and the three-dimensional structure of the magic formula, no matter how detailed it was drawn in a book. The Magic Tower likely published the books to publicize their greatness, without having to worry about leaking knowledge.
Thanks to that, Erna sat at ease in Hessenguard as she enjoyed the knowledge of the Magic Tower. Among the books, she read all day, one of them wrote: ‘The stronger one’s magical power, the more sensitive one is to the presence of demons at night and it helps to have knights around to ease one’s sensitivity.’ She’d only glanced at this once, and she’d half-forgotten since, as Erna rarely confronted demons at night or spent time with knights.
In the book, it said that just being around a knight would alleviate the discomfort for a wizard, but there was no explanation about how close together they should be. She wondered now if she had slept so sound because of all the knights in the mansion. In the morning, she’d seen that several knights were staying in the room next to her bedroom, including Kalion’s lieutenant, and she thought it might be thanks to them.
Feeling more relaxed, she brought herself back to the present moment and focused on the task at hand. Erna floated the magic formula that she’d created in the air, carefully examining it to see if there were any problems, “Okay, perfect!” There were no problems with her design. If she lay out the magic formula today, at the right place for the wizards to infuse it with magic power, and then started activating it tomorrow morning, by evening they should be able to rescue the people of Haldis. “So, I hope he takes the knights and leaves as soon as possible.”
* * *
“Then, are you telling us to take a step back?”
Orpé sighed as Cedric’s voice rose, “There’s no need to be so infuriated. Why are you so angry when you don’t have to work?”
“That’s not the problem. It is out of the question for the knights to go back without doing anything. For a knight, that is a shame!”
“Well, the knights live so tirelessly. But, as I said, when our Archduke’s magic is activated, there is nothing for the knights to do. And it’s not doing nothing, we’re asking you to help people.”
“Easy for you to say. They are anxious to cut the heads off of the demons. If I tell them to sit back and watch the wizards do all the work, they will cut my head off!”
“That’s strange. Wizards like it when they are told to do nothing.”
The door opened and Kalion entered the room visibly annoyed, because the loud difference of opinion between the two, had disturbed him. They immediately straightened up and bowed their heads to him. “I could hear your voices well from outside.”
Orpé broke out in a cold sweat at Kalion’s sullen voice. She could talk to Cedric comfortably, but not to Kalion. After all, he was an Archduke, like Erna, whom Orpé served. Because of his sheer size, everyone froze like a mouse in front of a cat when they stood before him, feeling intimidated.
“Orpé, what is this all about?”
“We were just discussing the magic to be used,” she replied softly.
“Explain exactly what, when, and where the spell will be cast by the wizards.”
Orpé became very nervous when he spoke so bluntly and she stumbled over her words as she explained to Kalion the spell that Erna was going to cast. Kalion quietly looked at the map as he listened intently to Orpé’s explanation.