Deep into the night, a light sigh left Cornelli’s lips.
“I can’t believe I didn’t know about the rumors going around.”
“You’ve always been slow when it comes to rumors. What’s new.”
Yennit replied as though there’s no need to think about it. They were talking about how Cornelli stormed into Alejandro’s office hours ago.
As soon as Cornelli was done explaining everything he heard, the two left the shocked Alejandro and went to the uppermost floor to gather some research materials. They were on their way back now.
With a thick book under one arm, Yennit rolled up her robe’s wide sleeves, then counted by folding her fingers one by one.
“Then, let’s see. There was a time when you slept on a piece of paper you wrote magic sigils on, then you walked around with the sigils stuck on your cheek—but then you were the last one to know. Then there was also this one time so many rumors were spreading everywhere about how that girl who likes you was about to confess to you, but you didn’t notice that she confessed. Right?”
“Why would you even bring that up!”
“And back when you were first in your class, the second in the class kept glaring at you as if he wanted to kill you, but then you just thought that you’re the bestest of friends. And that girl you were dating last time, I heard you gave her a gift for your 100th day celebration, but you didn’t even know that you guys already broke up. Seriously, you’re amazing, too.”
“I really thought we were still dating! She never mentioned anything about us breaking up—”
“You know, people usually read the mood or hear about it from other people. But then you’re just a typical man from the ivory tower. And you’re stuck in the lab all day every day, so of course you wouldn’t have known.”
“T-Then how about you! You didn’t know either!”
As if Yennit could be beaten with just this, Cornelli tried to retaliate. Sadly, however, Yennit was not such an easy mage to win against.
“You think we’re the same? I knew those rumors were going around. Everyone’s been trying to ask me every time they see me, but I can’t talk about it. I didn’t think about denying anything because I just thought that time would tell and it’d all tide over.”
When Cornelli first mentioned the rumors about the pregnancy or some such, Yennit could still recall the mixed reactions of both Alejandro and Ophelia.
The first looked as if they’re about to die from laughter, and the second looked as if they’re about to jump out the window and die right that second.
Of course, the former was Ophelia and the latter was Alejandro.
‘I already expected that it’s going to be like this.’
Back when they were still on their way to the tower from the outside, Yennit heard about the entire story from Ophelia. That was when Yennit began to fully trust her.
And after they returned to the tower, Yennit apologized for her actions properly.
—I’m really sorry, Ophelia.
—The situation led you to think that way, so there’s nothing for you to apologize about. Since all the misunderstandings have been cleared up now, everything’s alright.
And Ophelia was gracious. She even said this with a smile on her lips as if she had already somehow expected Yennit’s reactions.
—At least, if more rumors crop up in the future, I won’t need to worry about you misunderstanding me again, Yennit.
—Now that I think about it, didn’t you notice it too?
—The rumors about you.
Yennit pointed a thumb at the other side of the room. The persistent whispers were as apparent as the salty smell from the docks permeating the walls.
When Ophelia and the other three returned to the tower appeared here, the whispers would stop for a while, but when they were gone again, the whispers would continue all the same.
Clicking her tongue, Yennit spoke.
—I already expected this to happen because there’s really nothing much to talk about here at the magic tower, but if it’s bothering you, Ophelia, I can take care of it for you.
—I’m not bothered. It doesn’t seem like everyone hates me, so it’s fine.
—Still, shouldn’t your relationship with Lord Alejandro at least be set straight with those people?
—Leave it be. It’s nice to be back home after such a long while, isn’t it? So rather than that, it’s much better to have this kind of a warm welcome.
Ophelia’s home was technically the Milescet Imperial Palace.
Yennit wasn’t aware of how Ophelia had been treated in the palace, so after she heard that Ophelia liked the current situation, Yennit could only shake her head.
—Above all, it’s natural for people to talk when someone else comes. And above all, it’s great that I’m being talked about in this way instead.
If it was Cornelli, he would have asked what’s so good about it. However the person Ophelia was talking to right now was Yennit, who was uninterested in all other people apart from Alejandro.
‘For an easy life, there’s no need to try reading the atmosphere or try poking your nose into other people’s business.’
This was Yennit’s way of life. Still, she found that she couldn’t stand this so she thought that it’d be fine to meddle in Ophelia’s affairs for a bit. But what could she do when the person herself was alright with everything that’s happening?
Yennit extinguished her worries. And, true enough, when Ophelia found out about just what kind of rumors were being passed around, she just laughed about it.
However, the story seemed to be different to this one fool beside Yennit who couldn’t read the mood and was, in the first place, too slow-witted to even catch a drift of it.
“I really can’t believe I didn’t know about the rumors going around…”
“Haa, you idiot.”
Yennit patted Cornelli, who was still in shock, on the back as they descended the stairs.
“Just don’t think about it anymore and continue your story. What do you mean Ophelia’s going to take the mage exam?”
“Ah, that! Right. Ophelia said she’s interested in magic. Even if she wasn’t, since there are some people who don’t like having outsiders inside the tower, they’re going to want to test her affinity for magic. And I heard that her affinity didn’t seem too bad…”
While Cornelli chatted, the evening scenery could be seen through a window of the staircase, and there shining over the water’s surface was the moon’s reflection. This was also the sight that Yennit missed the most while she was still staying at Ronen.
Without realizing it herself, Yennit stopped in place and stared at the scenery. When Cornelli called to her, her steps started again.
“Yeni, what are you doing? Come on.”
“Yeah, I’m coming.”
The lab was located at the uppermost floor where Alejandro was staying, and one floor below that was where the high-ranking officials of the tower stayed.
It’s a relief though that mages who still hadn’t completed the advanced course could also come and go to the lab.
So, it’s only natural to pass through the upper floor that was used by the officials.
‘The lights are on.’
Suddenly, Yennit’s eyes caught sight of the hallway. She couldn’t see it properly while descending the stairs, but she now noticed the faint stream of light.
If the high-ranking officials had set a public meeting at this time of the night, she would have known.
‘But I didn’t hear anything.’
Ever since Alejandro had returned, everyone knew that the high mages had subtly divided themselves into two groups—one that welcomed his return and one that didn’t.
The individuals in the latter group, of course, would have to give up their positions to Alejandro.
It’s natural that the lord of the magic tower was the one who’d hold power, but while the tiger was gone, the fox had pretended to be the owner of the mountain. They must be trying to figure out how to push him out again.
And there was one mastermind behind all this.
‘While Lord Alejandro was away, I heard that Meruzia acted as the head.’
Maybe that’s why he didn’t seem very happy when Alejandro returned. Rather, he even seemed flabbergasted.
—W-Welcome back, Lord Alejandro. And the person with you… is Ophelia, was it? Pardon me, but your identity,
—Since when has someone’s identity been important in the magic tower. I brought her here as my guest. I wouldn’t make such a huge blunder, now would I?
Since Alejandro was the one favored by the magic tower, virtually no one could oppose him. That’s why it remained to be seen, but now, Alejandro had gained a weakness by the name of Ophelia.
‘It’s entirely possible for Ophelia to be put in danger just to try and hurt Lord Alejandro.’
Besides, if the rumors had gotten so out of hand…
Yennit stopped in place, and so she had to be urged to come down once again.
“Why do you keep standing still? What’s up?”
As Yennit replied, she brought her palms together.
She blew through the gap between her thumbs, and smoke came out like an inflating balloon. Soon, the smoke took the form of a small bird, which flew towards the opposite direction of where they had walked.
“I just remembered that I had to contact someone.”
The improvised messenger bird was made in such a hurry that it wouldn’t be suitable for any long-distance contact because it wouldn’t go far, but this much was enough for reaching anywhere inside the tower.
‘This should be okay.’
It’s fine to meddle just this much. Yennit left with a light heart.
* * *
“So, I’ve been told that I should watch out for a person called Meruzia.”
As Ophelia said this, she opened her hand. Smoke that had once been in the shape of a bird dissipated into the air.
“What’s your opinion on this, Sante?”
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