Pietro walked into a bar located in the capital city of Engelburg. There were brief looks from the customers as they found it somewhat odd for an elderly gentleman in a butler outfit to visit such a place alone. This was a bar that was typically visited by noblemen, too high-class for the common man.
Ignoring the scrutinizing looks and whispers, Pietro walked right up to a cloaked man sitting at the counter. Seeing who he had approached, the noblemen quickly looked away in panic. They wanted nothing to do with the renowned person known as the Chancellor.
“Quite some time since we’ve had a chat, Pythagoras. I guess you go by Pietro nowadays.” The Chancellor jiggled the glass in his hand. He beckoned Pietro to approach, causing the ice to clink as it shifted.
“Willingham, you still look the same after all this time. What is it that you want from an old man that has nothing to do with the kingdom anymore?”
Thirty years ago, Pietro had first laid eyes on the face in front of him. An era of peace had been newly established, with Pythagoras Tromaine at the forefront. In those days, King Reginald had been rigorously settling disputes that rose up from the scattered lands on the outskirts of his domain. It was a time when the regions within the kingdom’s current boundaries had not yet been unified.
Through his skirmishes with the outer region lords, the Captain of the Royal Guard became someone to be feared. With brilliant swordplay, he could best any opponent. The destructive force of his skills made numbers almost irrelevant. Generals that saw his visage in the distance would break out in a cold sweat. They knew that none of the standard war strategies would work on such a man.
When the fighting had calmed down, a demon had suddenly appeared. Naturally, Pythagoras was the first to be sent to engage it. With his own abilities, he had quickly taken care of it before it could go on a rampage.
Not long after, he met the man who would be known in the future as the Chancellor.
“Oh ho, so this is the man that defeated a demon? Quite impressive to do that using solely swordplay, and without the aid of spellcraft or summoned heroes…”
Having been raised as a commoner, Pythagoras had never been trained in magic, and thus, cared not for the legendary summoned Electi that were gifted their stats. The ones that he met were spoiled brats that never took things seriously.
“I find it somewhat offensive to be compared to those who barely work for their strengths.” He brushed off the man before him. Pythagoras had been called here to deal with someone that had been causing quite the scene.
The man, a foreigner called David Willingham, had knocked out an entire squadron of guards that had been questioning him of his background. The kingdom was being vigilant of outsiders trying to gather information.
“Then, how about a dance with me, swordsman?” Willingham formed a sword made of earth using magic.
Pythagoras thought it was strange for a magician to challenge him of all people to a duel. Expecting the initial strikes to be a diversion, he kept on a lookout for mana being converted into spell magic.
However, the sword thrust had approached him much faster than he had expected. He had to drop his focus away from mana detection to parry the strikes. Luckily, there had been no spells that had followed up after the initial attacks. The magician had fully intended to challenge him in swordplay.
After minutes of trading light blows, Pythagoras finally gained the upper hand and deflected the earth sword out of Willingham’s hand. Raising his arms in surrender, he smiled.
“Such wonderful skill. I am quite interested in you and this country.”
“What is your objective?” Pythagoras glared at him, sensing some ulterior motive in this disturbance. He could feel from their exchange that the man had been testing him.
“The fastest way to attract the attention of important people is to cause a scene. After all, it brought out the hero that slayed a demon, did it not? I simply wanted to demonstrate my capabilities in my search for a stable occupation.”
Pythagoras lowered his sword. All this trouble for a job? That was somewhat ludicrous.
However, he would soon learn how absurd the magician’s abilities were. Proficient in magic of all elements, capable of defeating a large army easily, untouchable when fighting seriously – the man far outclassed his own skills. The kingdom couldn’t ignore such strength, so the king himself granted the man a significant position. Within a short period of time, David Willingham had gained the coveted position as the king’s law enforcer, the title of Chancellor.
Pythagoras had his reservations about him. Things always seemed a bit too ‘convenient’ when it came to how Willingham did things.
Demons had started popping up suddenly around the time that Willingham arrived, and it always seemed like he was present when one showed up. After a handful had been taken care of one day, he ran into a random traveler inspecting the remains.
“You there, that’s dangerous! Who knows if the residuals of a demon could do anything strange?”
He happened upon a girl that had her hand over the ashes that had been left behind. It looked like she was concentrating very hard on something, enough to block out his calls.
When she finally finished, she looked up at him. “Did you slay the demon?”
“No, I could have, but someone beat me to it.”
“I see. I’m so close…” She turned around and slowly faded out of sight.
Not believing his eyes at first, he tried to sense where the girl had gone. However, his efforts were muddled by the mana that had been strewn throughout the air. Had she purposefully covered up her mana trace?
Not long after, he would see her again. This time, she had been captured by the kingdom’s forces.
“Let me go! That man cannot be trusted! He isn’t what he says he is!” Caged up and confined, the girl had vehemently tried to argue her case.
“She is a foreigner sent to spy on us. Lock her up, men.” Willingham dismissed her accusations.
Curious about her, Pythagoras followed them. What she had done before had intrigued him. Did she have some connection with the demons that had recently shown up?
When the chance arrived, he went and questioned her in the dungeon.
“You, what were you doing? That time with the demon. How were you involved?”
Recalling her brief meeting with him, she spoke up.
“Not that you’ll believe me anyways, but I feel the same mana signature from that man as the one who killed my brother.”
Originally skeptical of Willingham, Pythagoras was interested in what kind of dirt she had to offer.
“I’ll listen to what you have to say. What is your name?”
“Narika,” she hesitantly said.
The girl had been from the country of Sanshiro to the east. Several months ago, their country had been attacked by numerous demons. Her brother had been one of the few summoners in her country, and together with his Electi, had managed to fight back against them.
Finally, cornering who they believed to be the mastermind, her brother was dealt a mortal wound before the villain escaped. Though the demons stopped appearing afterward, the summoner had been killed.
Narika had tried to track down the culprit, which led her to Sistina.
“A man capable of creating demons?” Pythagoras was surprised at what he was hearing. The man had appeared nearly the same time as the demons. It was looking more like it was no coincidence.
However, it would be nearly impossible to take down such a powerful man. With his motives unclear, Pythagoras could see no way to stop him. However, there was one thing he could do.
With a swift swing of his sword, the bars of the cell had been cut so cleanly through that they didn’t even move. Pythagoras casually grabbed the severed section and placed it aside.
Narika looked up at him shocked. “Yo-You believe me so easily?”
“More so than I believe the people of this kingdom right now.” He extended his hand to her.
His intuition told him to believe the girl in front of him. He sensed something strange about the Chancellor and his actions, but he couldn’t put a finger on it. Maybe, he would gain some insight from her.
Together, they escaped from the kingdom. As people came after them, Pythagoras beat them back with his sword. After knocking them out, Narika bent down and played with their head a bit.
“What are you doing?” Pietro looked over her shoulder with upturned eyebrows.
“A little trick to make them forget that they ever saw us.” Narika smiled in response.
Apparently, she had a natural ability in mana manipulation. Using those skills, she could block out particular memories. In that way, Pythagoras Tromaine and Narika had essentially disappeared from the kingdom overnight.
Not long afterward, the demon attacks suddenly died down. Not until months later did the pair show up again in the kingdom. But this time, their mana signatures were completely different, and they had decided to follow a young, upstart merchant under the guise of servants with different identities. Having failed to convince Sanshiro to act, the least they could do was continue to watch over the kingdom in the shadows.
“It wasn’t until recently that I had rediscovered an old acquaintance. Though, I always had the feeling that you didn’t like me.” Willingham sipped his drink.
Though he had learned of Pietro’s identity, he hadn’t realized yet that Pietro had married the girl that he had imprisoned that time nor the reasons for the butler’s wariness of him.
On the other hand, Pietro had mistakenly believed that Willingham had singled him out after discovering his identity.
“You aren’t after me for leaving the kingdom back then?”
“Hardly. How you live your life is of no consequence to me.”
“Then, why did you call me here?”
“Just a nice little diversion.” The Chancellor rose from his chair and let out a low voice, audible only to the two of them. “You see, the king is not interested in those of the past. He only looks at those threatening his future, particularly those upstart lords as of late.”
Pietro’s senses perked up.
‘It couldn’t be! The Young Miss!’
Pietro quickly turned around and headed for the door, leaving behind a smiling man that had completed his role to buy time. As soon as he got outside, Pietro broke into a dash, hoping that he would make it in time.
Though he had spent the past month and a half training her in mana control at her request, she was far from his level. Quick learner she may be, there had been simply too little time to impart what he knew to her.
If King Oswald wished to rid himself of her possible resistance, it would be imperative that he do it soon, before her skills had matured. A bad feeling sank into the pit of his stomach. He felt guilty leaving her and Carina alone to fend for themselves. While Carina was gifted in spiritual arts, she was not a seasoned fighter. The best she could do was to knock a few people out with mana manipulation. Her abilities were more suited for espionage than for fighting multiple opponents.
The rumble of a carriage sounded next to him. The sight of an old man running on pace with a carriage at full-speed had turned quite a few heads.
The door opened, revealing Cornelius who had also caught wind of the plan to attack the Faulkner domain.
With a nod, Pietro hopped into the carriage. The moment they passed the city gates leading in the direction of the Faulkner domain, a large surge in mana could be felt by them.
Peering out the window, the two of them saw the night sky glowing in the distance. An unnatural reddish hue broke the darkened sky in the direction they were heading for.
Though the carriage made haste to its destination, their arrival had been far too late. They would arrive only to stare in shock at the aftermath of the attack.
The opening cries of a revolution.