Marcus was one of the seven pillars of the Magic Tower. He was well known for his somber, stoic demeanor—but for some reason, he was in a rush today.
The reports could be true—but what was the Master’s reasoning, then?
A little over five years ago, an unbelievable rumor was circulating among the Tower’s residents: the last seat of the Seven Magicians was yet unoccupied. The Master of the Tower had reached out to someone to fill it. His pick was Evergrant kun Ashvald, the current chief mage of the Imperial dynasty of the Avalon Empire. As far as Marcus and the Magic Tower were concerned, however, he was a traitor.
A more elitist and reclusive organization than the Magic Tower could not be found on the continent. They earned this reputation for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was their rules: what you learn in the Tower stays in the Tower, no matter who you were. Simple words, but a dreadful sentence for a wizard. Abandoning information, especially magic, was like abandoning the wizard’s identity.
No wizards left the Magic Tower. Anyone who did would be chased down to the ends of the continent and murdered if they dared leak the Tower’s secrets. Draconian, but effective. The Tower would not be what it is were it not for this policy.
The only exception is Evergrant kun Ashvald. And that was the end of that. Once upon a time, he and Theta were considered two of the Tower’s greatest talents of the time. Evergrant was predicted to be the next Master of the Tower, but then betrayed them, fled the Tower, and swore allegiance to the Avalon Empire.
But Ian had never responded.
This has to be dealt with carefully. There were nearly riots when people found out.
These days, only a few people knew. The Master, Evergrant, the Emperor of Avalon, and a few other high-ranking nobles. Marcus only found out through a rumor.
Marcus stared resolutely at the firmly shut door in front of him. He reached out and tapped it three times.
“Master, it’s Marcus Lindbloom.”
He slowly opened the door. It wasn’t long before he saw Tower Master Ian, who sat at his desk with his head down.
“I greet the Master of the Magic Tower.”
Marcus’s eyes flicked to the far wall as he lifted his head.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken privately with you, Marcus.” Ian raised his bowed back and peered at Marcus through his spectacles. “What is it you have to say, then?”
“First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere apologies.” Marcus bowed his head again, to Ian’s bewilderment. “This is the only time I’ve been able to stop by since the Master was gone—”
“There was a mana outage not long ago, now that I think about it. It must have been the control room?”
Marcus nodded. At the moment, he was responsible for managing the central control room for the Magic Tower’s array of technology and relics. It so happened that the Magic Tower’s high-security library shared the top floor with the Master’s office.
“The door was open, so… I came in to greet you.”
“That makes sense.”
Ian noticed Marcus’s intent stare.
“So you noticed…” He turned to the blank space on the wall.
“It was just a regular hologram, with the same symbol as the one in the conference room. There was one difference, though… There was a mark there. A mark, but not the lightning bolt…” Marcus’s face tensed. “Not Jack’s mark. It was a bit messy, so I’m not certain… but it was the symbol of the All-Class Magician, Evergrant kun Ashval, wasn’t it? My Lord, do you see him becoming one of the Seven?”
“That child…” Ian sighed deeply. “Evergrant was supposed to be my heir.”
The truth sent Marcus reeling.
“He had no shortage of skill, charisma, or leadership. There was simply no other logical choice.”
“As I said, Theta is the second most powerful person in the Tower. However…” Ian sighed again. “Talent aside, he lacks the traits of a successful Master of the Tower. He can’t even wipe his own ass; I can’t recommend him to take care of the entire Tower. It’d be like caging a bird, no matter how talented he is.”
Marcus absorbed Ian’s sentiments, but he was not satisfied.
“Are you planning on raising Evergrant to take your position? The other wizards won’t accept this; the whole Tower might split—”
“Wait until the very end.”
Marcus held his tongue.
“I can’t give this position to someone who’s already abandoned us. That’s what I’m trying to say. But there is no one who can replace his skills… because he still has them.”
Ian’s eyes saddened.
“He was branded a traitor for one mistake. Can’t you give the kid a chance? It’s time he paid the Tower back for the favors he’s received. He can help compensate for Theta’s weaknesses.”
“You want him to… help Theta?”
Ian nodded. “That’s when our Tower can make real progress—towards the pinnacle of the continent.”
“If he doesn’t want to…”
“I gave him ample time. We settled on an agreement. For starters, he read all he could find on Jerath dick Orbis. Then, in exchange, well…” The Master’s voice grew icy and quiet. “So what if he doesn’t want to? He will. Our laws demand it.”
“Finally! Theta Leos of the Seven Magicians faces off against the monster of Avalon, Joshua Sanders, in the final battle of Group A! The victor will face the Prince of Ulabis, the Red Knight!”
The crowd cheered wildly.
Group A of the Master Battle was coming to a close. The second-to-last match was at hand, and the crowd had never been bigger. Both combatants were regarded as the best in their respective fields: the greatest magician against the finest spearman.
Theta and Joshua stood only five feet away from each other.
“You say some… incredible things, you know that?”
“Your choices are up to you. I’m not interested in debating with you. Nonetheless…” Joshua grinned. “It would be simpler if you put everything on the table.”
“You’re very self-assured.” Theta gave Joshua a perplexed smile and began to move.
If this is the Thetapirion Whitesocks I know, he might understand my words… but for now, I’m going to stay focused on the Master Battle.
Joshua braced himself. He knew Thetapirion was not an enemy he could take lightly.
“Hey.” Theta’s hand shot into the air and his eyes were on the announcer.
“Yes?” The announcer looked back. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“There’s something I want to say before we start.”
“What is it?”
“I… give up.”
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