Volume 1 — Chapter 6: Forbidden Spell
Thirteenth’s long-absent voice had no tone to it whatsoever, and sounded very much inhuman.
“The subtle wrongs they continually suffered were pent up within them… and because they were allowed to come to a head without being resolved, the bad blood would never end. And so, in a not-so-distant future, the revolt would begin in Wenias. I did nothing but speed its arrival. Those who wanted to fight were the witches of this land. As it were, they acted per the path I had prepared for them.”
“What path?! That there’s goin’ into conspiracy territory.”
I could still barely move, and with great effort I spat on the floor. Thirteenth seemed not to notice.
“I have a correction to make, Zero. I did nothing to agitate the Coven of Zero. All I have done is ensure the spread of magic throughout Wenias. There were also numerous paths that the Coven of Zero could have taken to do what is right and coexist with the humans, but they instead chose the path that would lead to their own destruction.”
“A path that would lead to their own destruction…?”
“Yes. By betraying the trust of the humans with the Revels of Revenge, the Coven of Zero chose the path of evil. Thus—I had to settle for the path of righteousness until, by saving the king and protecting him from his witch attackers, I had become the jester who performed the plays of justice that the people longed for. Unbelievable…they were the ones who wished to defend this kingdom as the force of good, even using Zero’s name in theirs, but they ended up becoming the exact opposite. This is why the situation is now so difficult: there are so many unknowns that things are not proceeding logically…ten years went to waste as a result of this.”
Thirteenth hunted his broad shoulders slightly and sighed, knitting his eyebrows in seeming frustration.
“Misunderstandings, vengeance, and vengeance for vengeance—the birth of a nation from conflict will invariably mark the world with misery. Zero, you did not have to see this. If only you had waited for me in the cave, and simply accepted the kingdom I would have created. You would have reigned as the very symbol of peace and prosperity, the mother of magic, over a world where witches are revered as righteous icons and magic is known by all to be the noblest art.”
“Fool! Have I ever fancied that, Thirteenth?! If you had simply thought to return, I would have been—!”
“You have always said that you wanted to see the sky, haven’t you?”
Zero swallowed sharply. Sky, Zero’s lips mouthed the word.
“You longed for the world outside the cave. You said that you wanted others to know the magic of the Book of Zero, and that you wanted a kingdom where everyone could live comfortably and happily. Indeed, I warned that magic was an art which would bring the world’s downfall. But still, you clung to the Book of Zero like a childhood dream. Therefore, I decided that I would grant that dream.”
Everything had been for the witches’ peace. —And through that, Zero’s happiness.
I see, Thirteenth. This was only becoming more and more mad.
“Now is the time to build a nation, Zero. Everything will be over very soon. Everything. With the words of Solena’s granddaughter—the name was Albus, wasn’t it?—all of the witches who have chosen to fight will come to defeat me. That is, ‘that person,’ to whom they have pledged their absolute loyalty through blood pacts.”
The breaching of a witches’ blood pact meant annihilation. What Dog-Face had told me suddenly clicked together in my mind.
—Them wayward sorcerers tried to kill Thirteenth.
—They didn’t even get the chance to fight before ‘that person’s might struck ‘em down.
Ah—so that was it. So, this was the path?
To learn magic, it was necessary to be inducted into the Coven of Zero, which required one to swear their allegiance to ‘that person’ in a witches’ blood pact. Even the wayward sorcerers had originally learned their magic from the Coven of Zero.
What this meant was that essentially all magic-using witches had sworn their loyalty to Thirteenth. That was why when those witches attempted to kill Thirteenth after taking hostages, they were annihilated by the power of their blood pacts.
The same thing was going to happen again. Except this time, on a far greater scale.
I could already see the Coven of Zero and the wayward sorcerers, normally enemies, gathering together and joining forces to defeat Thirteenth.
And the moment the witches who mobilized began their assault upon him, they would be annihilated without a trace. —In other words, the evil witches would be annihilated before the witch-fearing populace.
Thirteenth alone would remain—and just like that, his righteousness would become unquestionable.
That was Thirteenth’s “path”.
Zero shouted and rattled the birdcage.
“No, no, no—! Are you really going to kill every one of the witches of this land, Thirteenth?! Even the elderly witches with their crystallized wisdom and knowledge? Even the young witches with their hopes and dreams, would you have them all die for my sake?!”
“The only ones to die will be those who choose to fight. Only those foolish and thoughtless enough to abandon themselves to someone as dubious as ‘that person’—someone whose true identity and whereabouts are unknown. Such philistines were unworthy of the power in the first place. The wise old witches still live modestly and inconspicuously, waiting for the storm to pass.”
It was the consequence for thoughtlessness. They were responsible for their own actions. They made their own decisions, they fought on their own volition, and they would die by their own hands.
True, there really was no point in sympathizing with people like those.
These purported truths you adhere to—ain’t all convenient for you.
“—Solena then, what about her?”