The Beginning After The End - Chapter 98
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
“Arthur Leywin, son of Reynolds and Alice Leywin. The Council has decreed that, due to your recent actions of excessive violence and the inconclusive circ.u.mstances involved, your mana core will be restrained, your t.i.tle as a mage will be stripped, and you will be incarcerated until further judgment.”
“… Effective immediately.”
Followed by those words from the female lance’s mouth were three distinct reactions from the people around me. The first reaction was made by the curiously ignorant. They eyed me with looks of perplexion, studying my appearance as they tried to fit me with the edict that had been read aloud by the female lance:
I could feel their cautious skepticism as they silently tried to figure out how a boy, who was barely a teen, could cause the Council itself to issue the verdict instead of the city governor.
The second reaction was made by the ever-foolish faces of the all-accepting crowd. Those that blindly worshipped the Council as well as all forms of higher authority. They took the words written on the communication artifact as G.o.d’s truth and looked at me with eyes of condemnation. Their whispers could even be heard from where I was standing as their eyes narrowed into a disdainful glare,believing that I was somehow responsible for everything that had happened inside the academy.
The third reaction was one that I had thought I would only receive from my family. No. To my surprise, the students and faculty that were involved in the incident—those that had the strength to still speak—all cried out in protest. Because my family was the closest, I could hear them the most clearly.
“Incarcer… Your Honour, there must be some sort of mistake,” my mother voiced out from behind the fence.
“Yes, I’m sure that there is an explanation for all of this. My son would never… there must be an explanation for all of this,” my father amended, knowing perfectly well what I was capable of.
There were other outcries of protest: some from students I recognized as well as from those who were simply stating the truth; all of which were ignored by the female lance.
“This makes no sense! How dare you punish the one who actually did some good. If it wasn’t for Arthur, you lances wouldn’t have had anyone left to save!” I turned my head towards the source of the voice. To my surprise, it was Kathlyn Glayder. She was marching in my direction with unbridled fury in her eyes; an expression I had neither seen nor expected from her.
“I will see to it that my mother and father will rescind this decree at once—”
“Your father and mother were the ones, along with King and Queen Greysunders, that had voted in favor of this judgment,” the female lance promptly interrupted. While her words were respectful, her expression and tone could only be depicted as indifferent and rude.
Before Kathlyn could get any closer, her brother held her back. I couldn’t hear what he had told her but the princess finally relented, her face still red and body shaking.
I knew that no matter how much I try to reason with the female lance, she wouldn’t listen. Letting me go wasn’t her decision to make.
“Can I speak to my family one last time before you take me?” I asked, my voice coming out more sullen than I had wished.
After receiving a terse nod from the female lance, I walk back to where my parents were leaning against the fence. For a few seconds, we just stared at each other, not knowing how to begin.
“Don’t look so sad, guys. Things will be better after this misunderstanding gets cleared up.” I let out a wide grin, hoping to mask my uncertainty. I had allies within the Council, but there were too many unknown factors at work here. I wasn’t so worried for myself as I was for Sylvie. To have a dragon alive in our continent wasn’t a matter that could be waved off.
My facade must’ve faltered when I was focusing on my thoughts; my parents’ expressions changed as both of them gazed at me, wide-eyed and afraid.
“Y-you… you honestly have no idea if you’ll be able to come back to us, do you?” I couldn’t meet my mother’s eyes as she stuttered, her voice dripping with worry; I, instead, focused on her hand, her fingers were deathly pale and her nails red from how hard she was clenching onto the iron fence.
“Brother… you’re not going to anywhere, right? This is all a joke, right? Right?” Ellie’s face was a pale shade of crimson and I could tell she was doing her best to keep from breaking into sobs.
I kneeled down so I could be at eye-level with my sister. As I studied her childish face, I could hardly believe that she was already ten. One of my biggest regrets was not being able to be by her side as she grew up. I had met my sister for the first time when she was four, and even after that, I was only with her for weeks at a time. While looking at her, I could only hope that the next time I see her wouldn’t be when she was a teen… or an adult.
I got back up, prying my gaze from Ellie whose face had been so tensed up that her lips were almost white. “I’ll definitely return home.” I turned back around just in time for my eyes to water without their notice.
The lance named Olfred conjured a stone knight beneath me, lifting me up as the female lance separated me from Sylvie, carrying her in an orb of conjured ice. Approaching us was Lance Bairon carrying the wrapped corpse of his deceased younger brother as his gaze continued to pierce through me with pure venom.
Like that, we departed. Bairon informed the others that he would be making a detour to his family’s house to deliver Lucas’ body for a proper funeral.
I wasn’t sure if becoming a white core mage came with the ability to fly, but all three of the lances were capable of flying without the need to invoke any spells, including the conjured knight that was carrying me.
My eyes stayed fixed on Xyrus Academy as it grew increasingly smaller the farther we flew. The place itself didn’t mean much to me, but my time at the school inside the floating City of Xyrus had been one as an ordinary student mage. I was considered gifted then, but I was still just a student. As the distance between me and the academy increased, I had the notion that I was leaving my life as an ordinary student behind.
We travelled wordlessly through the sky as all attempts to start a conversation had been shot down. As gentle as they were in how they treated me, to them, I was still a prisoner waiting to be judged.
‘Papa, what’s going to happen to us?’ Sylvie voiced in my head.
‘I’m… not sure, Sylv. Don’t worry, though. We’ll be okay,’ I rea.s.sured. Even without her replying back, I could sense the emotions she was feeling: uncertainty, fear, confusion.
It was impossible to tell exactly how far we had travelled South, as all I could see below us was the Grand Mountains that divided the Continent of Dicathen in half.
“We should stop here for the night.” The female lance descended into the mountains as Lance Olfred and the stone knight carrying me followed shortly after.
We landed in a small clearing on the edge of the Grand Mountains facing the Beast Glades. I was still chained together so I sat leaning against a tree, watching Olfred erect a campsite out of the earth.
“Hold still, Arthur Leywin.” Without waiting for me to respond, the female lance clamped an artifact over my sternum. Instantly, I felt mana drain out of my core as the device sunk deeper into my skin.
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“Ugh. My magic won’t help me escape from you guys, so why the sudden precaution?” I asked through gritted teeth. The sensation of your mana being forcibly contained wasn’t a pleasant feeling.
“There are other ways you can make trouble,” she replied tersely before taking the sleeping Sylvie and retreated into one of the stone huts that Olfred had conjured.
“How could I even…” I muttered under my breath, annoyed.
“It’s because we’re so close to the Beast Glades.” I turned my head towards Olfred, who took a seat on the ground next to me as he let out a sigh.
“You guys are the Lances, though. Are you saying that there are mana beasts that even you guys aren’t capable of beating?” I asked, a little taken aback by his approach.
“I haven’t met one so far, but the Beast Glades hold many mysteries that even the Lances have to be wary of, especially at night, when the more powerful beasts roam. Despite our powers, boy, we’re still humans, so we can still die. With all of the strange events coming happening these days, one can never be too careful.” There was a brief silence that was only accompanied by the low howling winds.
“What am I doing, telling all of this to a little kid,” he sighed.
I just shook my head. “Probably because you’ve been stuck with miserable company for the past few days.”
I was surprised when the old lance erupted into a fit of laughter. “You’re right about that, boy. Let me tell you, spending time with Varay and Barion together is more stress-inducing than any SS-cla.s.s mana beast I’ve ever fought.”
Varay. So that was the female lance’s name.
“Let me ask you this, boy. I’m curious as to how you became such a capable mage at your young age.”
“How do you know I’m capable? You’ve never seen me fight,” I challenged.
“I’ve heard Bairon tell me about his younger brother, the one you killed. I’d also gathered stories from the students while helping some of them just now too,” he answered, a curious look depicted on his aged face as he studied me.
We spent a bit more time talking to each other, but, while Olfred seemed amiable, he was also very guarded. I wasn’t able to pry out any sort of information from him except those that I could find out on my own. He conversed professionally without revealing anything crucial, as did I. In spite of our little dance of social intricacy in the form of polite conversation, there was a subtle tension between us as he weaved my questions into jokes. We tiptoed around each other with our light words as we tried to, at least, procure hints to satisfy our curiosity. After an hour of fruitless effort on both sides, Olfred suggested I get some sleep.
As expected of the Lances; while Olfred wasn’t as outright distant as the others, he was, in a way, more mysterious.
Olfred hadn’t been so kind as to make me a stone hut as he did for himself and Varay. Without a shelter and the protection of mana, the sharp winds sent chills throughout my body, making myself as small as possible as I lay curled against the tree.
I must’ve fallen asleep at some point because I was rudely awakened as a stone knight picked me up like a sack of rice.
“Hi, best friend,” I patted the conjured golem indifferently as I was whisked away back into the air.
‘Sylv, how are you holding up?’ I asked my bond.
‘I’m okay, Papa. It feels a little stuffy in here though, but it’s comfortable,’ Sylv replied.
Her emotions were linked with mine so I was careful in making sure not to leak any of the worry that I was feeling to her by accident. I wasn’t so much worried about what the Council would do to me; it was my Asura bond that I was worried about.
As we flew over the Beast Glades, I realized just how big our continent was. The diverse terrain of the mana beasts never ended. We pa.s.sed through deserts, gra.s.slands, snow-capped mountains and rocky canyons. It wasn’t once or twice that I spotted a mana beast large enough to be seen clearly from where we were flying.
Olfred and Varay constantly released a surge of killing intent, warding off all of the mana beasts within our vicinity. Still, there were more than a few times where we took a detour while the two lances withdrew their auras.
I couldn’t help but think that Varay had put the mana restriction artifact on me so that I don’t purposely attract the attention of dangerous and territorial mana beasts. I had to commend her, as that was something I would probably do to get away. I was curious, though, whether I had the ability to survive this deep in the Beast Glades or not.
My internal debate didn’t last long as Varay suddenly stopped. She took out the communication scroll that she had used to read the Council’s sentencing before carefully looking around.
“We are here,” she said.
I looked around in the sky but it was blatantly obvious that the only thing around us were the birds dumb enough to venture close to flying humans.
Just as I was about to speak my mind, Varay held up her hand as if she was searching for something in the air. With a soft click, the sky split apart to reveal a metal staircase.
Olfred let out a smirk upon seeing my gaping mouth.
“Welcome to the Council’s floating castle.”