Volume 2 — Chapter 1: The Republic of Cleion
Dear Zero and Mercenary,
Are the two of you well?
I’ve been busy ever since you left on your journey, but I finally found some time to write you a letter.
Is this getting to you? I’m a bit worried since it’s my first time using this Witch’s Letter. It was an old thing buried deep in my grandmother’s storehouse, and Zero said “it allows one to exchange letters with those far away,” so I decided to give it a shot, but…
Well, I’m sure you’re seeing this, so on to the main issues. In Wenias, where I am now, we’ve just about established the laws concerning magic. Once we officially unveil them, we will have to begin educating the new magicians.
How are things looking over there? Is your investigation of magic that appears to have originated from Wenias proceeding smoothly? I’ve also been gathering intelligence here and there, but all of it is trivial or based on rumors.
With Wenias’ decision to outlaw witch hunts, it must seem like it’s rebelling against the Church, right? It appears that as a result of that, the anti-Church factions in nations everywhere have become more active than ever. It’s basically those of the normal humans who want to become witches spreading the word that “it’s the witches’ era now!”
Ah! I should say “magician” and not “witch”, shouldn’t I? I’m still not really used to this, though that’s to be expected.
Um…moving along, what I wanted to say was that the reports I’m getting are a complete mess right now.
It’s partly because the pro- and anti-Church factions are engaging in small conflicts and struggles here and there, and some neighboring countries are trying to blame the incidents on Wenias.
I even hear stories about how if you read the one-and-only manual to magic, you’ll instantly get the power to control the world. They say it’s a miraculous book that changes hands for unbelievable sums of money.
That would be ridiculous if it were true, eh? I mean, even though I’m the owner of this so-called “manual to magic”, the Book of Zero.
I hear Thirteenth had a portion of the Coven of Zero make a copy for him, but the situation changed before it was complete, and so it’s rather hazy now…
Oh yeah, speaking of Thirteenth. Thanks to that gloomy, evil, nuisance of a sorcerer, we’ve got a good idea of how many magicians made it out of Wenias. We’re not sure where they are, but looking at the number of enrollment certificates, there’s about ten of them in total.
Huh, well I haven’t got any more space to write. I think I’ll end it here then.
P.S. Get in touch when you get a chance to come back to Wenias, will you? I’ll be expecting a souvenir.
“…It’s a letter now,” I muttered, half-dazed.
I sat at a window seat in the floor-size eatery of a cheap roadside inn, staring at the piece of parchment I held and the dense writing that filled it. The handwriting was neater than I had thought possible.
If I remembered correctly, there wasn’t any writing on the parchment just yesterday…
Albus had given me the parchment when we left Wenias. She had said, “as long as you have that paper, I can send you letters.” However, I never thought that her letters would arrive like this.
Did that mean if I wrote on my piece of parchment, it would also show up on Albus’?
“Witches’ tools’re always so handy…”
The words slipped from my mouth as I breathed a sigh, though whether I sighed out of astonishment or admiration, I knew not.
Everything would be so much more convenient if this were a common thing. But witches’ things were pretty much all difficult to make and obtain.
This Witch’s Letter was made by putting the hides of twin goats, who were born on the night of a new moon, in the center of a magic circle. They then needed to sit in the moonlight for seven days and seven nights, and had identical seals engraved on them using a pen made from the bones of their mother. This was a precious item made through unsavory and troublesome procedures.
Well, so long as the kingdom of Wenias set an example and supported the magicians, maybe one day, it would be a common thing to have.
There were various other inventions the witches used, and there were many humans who wouldn’t bat an eye at using money to be honored with one. According to far-traveling salesmen, they would do anything to get their hands on a Witch’s Letter so they could communicate instantaneously with people in far-off lands.
If they were to use a tool of the witches, the mortal enemy of the Church, it wouldn’t go over well for them. But…
“—Did you hear about Wenias?”
Suddenly, I heard a noisy voice from somewhere in the boisterous eatery.
This roadside inn, with people from all walks of life constantly passing through, was also a place for travelers from different nations to gather and share news.
All the conversations melded together, becoming only random noise. However, out of that melting pot, my ears picked out an interesting phrase. I shifted my focus to the dialogue of a group of men who had the air of merchants about them.
“Yeah, didn’t they decide to ban witch hunts? They want to live with the witches—even though they were at war with them just a while ago.”
“It’s all ‘cause a good witch took down some evil sorcerer that was trying to take over the kingdom. And that’s not all; Wenias cut ties with the Church and started helping the witches.”
“Helping witches? Then…the Knights of the Church aren’t just gonna sit and watch, right?” Someone asked uneasily.
Of course they wouldn’t. As Wenias officially acknowledged the witches, the Church’s enemy, of course the Church wouldn’t stand idly by. It wouldn’t be odd to see a large-scale dispatch of the Knights attempt to crush the heretical kingdom.
However, Wenias must have been confident that they would not be done in so easily, and thus had chosen estrangement from the Church. After all—
“That’s where Magic comes in. Up ’til now, witches needed to spend who knows how many days doing their rituals to use their sorcery, right? Nowadays, they just need to chant a little spell to use Magic.”
“No, I came here through Wenias. I saw it with my own eyes. Not only that, but I hear that this Magic only takes around five years’ practice to learn, ’s long as you’ve got the talent. That means Wenias’ now got their hands on the strength they need to hold off the Knights if they come for them.”
Even worse for them was the fact that, as Wenias was located in the center of the continent, it was a rest stop for travelers from every nation and a center of diplomacy. No country would welcome war in Wenias, so even the Church couldn’t strike carelessly.
“So that’s how it is…then if I go to Wenias, I can learn this Magic too?”
“It’s a question of possibility…but prob’ly not for you. You just don’t look like a mystic sorcerer to me.”
“What’d you say?” A man exclaimed, and for a while there was laughter. Then, the conversation drifted back toward commercial matters.
I looked down at the letter once more.
“How’s your investigation of magic going?” Albus had asked.
“No progress at all,” my reply would be. Rumors about what had happened in Wenias were spreading like wildfire, but I hadn’t heard anything about magic-related incidents in any other nation.
Magic was a newly born technique. It was handy, but could also be used for countless evil deeds, and those with the ability to counter it were few. Therefore, if one who had learned to use Magic made their way out of Wenias and did something big, no one would be able to suppress it.
That was why we, who more or less had a way to deal with them, were supposed to be investigating incidents resulting from the use of magic. However—
“What do ya think, Miss Witch? Even with the intelligence-gathering abilities of Wenias, the center of diplomacy, they’ve still got nothing. We can’t do this with just the two of us—“ I asked, raising my head.
In view was a hooded woman doing battle with the shell of a giant shrimp.
This woman, Zero, was my employer. A giant pain in the ass, and the witch who had written the miraculous book that could grant one the power to control the world.
Her form boasted unparalleled beauty, from her argent hair flowing down to her waist to her skin lighter than snow and her curious amethyst eyes. To look straight at her visage demanded audacity from even me, her bodyguard. Her hood hid half of her face from view, but her lips were far more than enough to express the extent of her allure.