༺ Self-Contradiction (4) ༻
Siwoo’s thoughts went awry.
Amelia knew everything.
Even his last resort to run away from slavery.
‘But, why is she asking me to solve a magic problem in such a situation?’
However, he knew that Amelia hated repeating herself.
Before he tried to figure out what was going on inside her head, it was more important to prevent her from getting mad.
That was why he glanced over the problem in front of him.
It was a picture of a magic circle, but Amelia hadn’t told him what was needed to be solved.
Countless straight lines, curves and arrangements of twelve runic characters messily covered the white paper.
He carefully visualized the magic circle in his mind by redrawing it through meticulous calculation.
If there was one remarkable ability Siwoo possessed, it was his ability to concentrate, regardless of the situation.
His previously pounding heart gradually turned tranquil as he concentrated even deeper.
As he had seen in the Ain, the principles and manifestation of a magic circle occurred on a three-dimensional level.
Magic circles were merely a medium for the witches to inscribe or record the three-dimensional magic into two-dimensional form.
It was similar to how humans turned the abstract phenomenon known as ‘sound’ into what was known as ‘musical sheet.’
And so, Siwoo’s mind brought the magic circle drawn on paper into a three-dimensional form.
What he imagined wasn’t a magic circle drawn on a flat piece of paper.
But a three-dimensional structure, an intricate mechanical device that slowly rotated in the air. A dodecahedron1It’s a polyhedron with twelve faces. If you don’t know what polyhedron is, it’s a three-dimensional shape with several flat faces, like cubes or prisms for example. with external tangents touching all of its edges.
Once he successfully discerned the magic circle’s form, he continued on the next step, to find out its purpose.
Based on the flow of mana and runic characters, he inferred how this particular magic circle would interact with reality.
“It’s a formula for mana transmission. The maximum transmission capacity is the volume of the internal connector.”
Siwoo said in a calm voice while looking at Amelia.
He was trying his hardest to not let his guard down.
After all, he still didn’t know what Amelia wanted yet.
“Is that all?”
No it wasn’t.
The formula she gave him wasn’t perfect.
There was a part of it missing.
“At its current state, there will be too much mana leakage during transmission. Whether the leakage is 50M or 30M, the formula won’t fulfil its intended purpose if we let it be.”
He picked up a pen and wrote some runic characters in three different places.
“This way we can transmit at least up to 100M without any transmission leaks.”
Amelia glanced at the equation that Siwoo solved.
She didn’t give out a big reaction before handing him another problem.
“Try this one too.”
The magic test came out of nowhere.
Amelia threw problem after problem at Siwoo.
She pretended to be calm as she observed the situation, but inwardly, she couldn’t help but feel amazed.
In terms of difficulty, the problems she threw at him weren’t the ones that could be considered challenging.
Even the twins could solve them all within a day.
However, Siwoo’s pace on solving each problem was extraordinarily fast.
After skimming through the problem just a few times, he’d grab his pen and write down his answer.
In magic, there was no definitive answer.
Even if one was working on the same spell, there could be thousands or even millions of possible answers.
That was why, the aspects that needed to be judged from the answer were how effective and logical the answer was.
However, even under Amelia’s strict standards, Siwoo’s answers were accurate and logical.
If Amelia were the one who was solving the problem under the same amount of time, she would probably write similar answers to his.
This made her certain.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Siwoo completed his self-essence magic. She also knew that he hadn’t received anyone’s help.
He was just that skilled.
Finally, all the problems that Amelia had prepared were solved.
All of them were finished in a little more than three hours.
Amelia checked his answer to the last problem.
The problem revolved around attempting to gauge the complete structure of a barrier formula using a partial observation.
The difficulty level of the problem increased as they went further, so this problem was at a level that even the twins would find it hard to solve.
However, Siwoo managed to find an answer to the problem in fifteen minutes.
The moment Siwoo handed his last answer to Amelia, he felt a burning thirst.
His stomach felt like it had swallowed hot coals.
Even the soft couch felt like a bed of thorns to him.
‘Why is she acting like this?’
‘If she found my magic circle sketches, she could just order me to stop my research.’
‘She could also confiscate the sketches and send me to the labor camp.’
‘I can’t think of anything, there’s too little information.’
Siwoo couldn’t understand why Amelia was doing this.
When he snapped out of his thoughts, her beautiful eyes were staring at him.
Her gaze was so intimidating that it was hard to believe that she was the same person who he caught doing something stupid this morning.
“There’s something I haven’t told you yet. It’s related to Countess Gemini…”
Amelia averted her gaze, either because she was trying to say that she didn’t want to hear his words any further or because she was distracted by something.
“I rejected their offer.”
She then turned her gaze toward Siwoo again as she gave out her reply.
Her gaze was strong and daring. Its intensity matched the phrase ‘staring daggers’ well.
“This morning, Countess Gemini came to visit me and offered me the proposal to transfer your ownership to them, Assistant Siwoo.”
“And you refused their offer…?”
Countess Gemini said that they would prepare a gift that Amelia would accept as a compensation.
Considering the gesture of courtesy they had shown to Siwoo, it was unlikely that they were telling him an empty promise.
That meant Amelia had refused their gift. But, why? For what reason?
“…May I ask why?”
This time, it was Amelia’s thoughts that were in turmoil.
She already formulated her answer while he was still asleep, but now that she was facing him, her tongue turned weak as she hesitated to answer his question.
“Because you’re still useful as an assistant.”
Amelia said dismissively, like a child trying to come up with a reasonable excuse to protect something that they didn’t want to be taken away.
That line was the only thing she could come up with.
‘A useful assistant?’
If she refused the Countess’ offer for such a reason, that meant she had already discovered the sketches before their meeting this morning.
Siwoo’s expression stiffened.
Seeing his expression, Amelia hastily added an excuse to emphasize her point.
It wasn’t like Amelia was unaware of his desire to leave Gehenna.
She could tell from his research how much he wanted to leave. Not to mention that when he was in the perfect opportunity to get whatever it was that he desired, he still chose to leave Gehenna.
That was why Amelia quickly made up an excuse.
To persuade him to follow her decision.
“Of course, I know what it is that you want, Assistant Siwoo.”
“But I can’t grant that request for you. Your talent in magic is exceptional. A slave achieving such a level of magic proficiency entirely through self-study is unprecedented. Letting that kind of talent to rot as a slave would be a huge waste.”
Amelia took a deep breath.
Then she slowly recited the words she had prepared and memorized in advance.
“So from now on, I’ll personally guide you in your studies of magic. You will no longer be a slave. I’ll welcome you as a member of the Marigold family.”
Siwoo felt a sudden surge of anger.
‘Is she telling me to give up and forget about my goal just because she wants to teach a lowly slave like me magic? She thought bestowing me with a noble status would be enough?’
Amelia continued her words with a gentle tone, focusing only on what she wanted to say, as if she hadn’t noticed Siwoo’s state.
“Shin Siwoo, you belong to me.”
Siwoo bowed his head deeply after hearing her words.
“I can’t tolerate you leaving my jurisdiction without permission. Therefore, I will take appropriate measures regarding your unauthorized escape plan.”
That meant, not only Siwoo was unable to run to the modern world by using the Countess’ favor, he was also unable to leave using his magic circle because Amelia had discovered its purpose.
Furthermore, she also declared that she wouldn’t let him make another plan to escape in the future.
It was as if the whole world had collapsed.
Siwoo felt that everything didn’t matter anymore.
Amelia glanced at Siwoo, who remained silent.
She felt nervous.
It was obvious that his condition didn’t look very good.
Though he didn’t say anything.
His eyes were empty and devoid of emotion.
He didn’t react in any meaningful ways.
“From now on, you’ll live in a favorable environment. You can request any materials that you like from the Academy by using my name, the same goes with any experimental tools that you need. Meals, desserts, cigarettes, clothes, anything you desire, just ask me for it, you don’t need to hold back, I will provide them all for you.”
Amelia believed those conditions would be enough to convince him.
Freedom from slavery.
Cigarettes and clothes he liked.
Furthermore, though he was a man, he had the chance to walk the path of magic with dignity. There was no reason for him to miss out on the golden opportunity to directly receive guidance from the ‘Baroness.’
He only needed to sacrifice a little bit of his freedom.
After hearing his response, Amelia also planned to discuss other matters.
She wanted to make a proper apology for the pain he had to endure due to her pettiness and compensate him appropriately.
The disparity in perception regarding social status.
Differences in living conditions.
And Amelia’s immature interpersonal skills.
Those three things were already causing fatal discordance between them.
But Amelia hadn’t noticed it yet.
She was running with all her might, believing the frozen lake beneath her was solid ground.
Siwoo let out a bitter laugh.
It was an impolite action that clearly expressed his discomfort and disbelief.
Seeing this, Amelia raised her brow in confusion.
Siwoo continued to laugh.
He couldn’t suppress it anymore.
She thought that she could act all high and mighty to him just because she had treated him well for a few days. As if all the years she had been torturing him was a lie. That was how ridiculous Amelia’s words were to Siwoo.
“Seriously, I tried to endure everything and let it all go, but I can’t.”
His five years of longing turned into ashes.
He felt a burning flame in his chest as he was given something that he didn’t even want. It was given to him like an act of kindness despite the other party being someone he resented.
An unbearable sorrow and resentment overwhelmed him.
“You’re a bitch down to the core, huh?”
Amelia realized that the crude remark was directed at her and promptly froze in place.
“Have I ever asked you to do anything for me? Did I tell you to pay me with minimum wage to make up for all the delayed wages all these years? Do you really think that you’re granting my wish right now?”
“W-What are you talking about…?”
“I never wanted to do all this, but I got dragged along under your feet like a dog for five years. I have things I want to do, things I need to do… I want to see my parents…! Damn it! Even those bastards in the military let their lowly dogs go on vacation to visit their families, but you… you damn bitch!”
Amelia abruptly stood up from her seat, her face turned pale.
She never imagined such words would come out of his mouth.
“W-What are you saying…? Are you out of your mind?”
Her head grew dizzy as she stumbled to find the words to say.
She slowly realized the unbearable amount of humiliation she received and her anger built up for a moment.
But then, she saw it.
The sight of Siwoo shedding his tears sorrowfully.
His eyes burned with hatred so intense that she could see clearly.
“Are you relieved now that you’ve crushed even my last hope? Well, if your goal is to make me suffer then, congratulations.”
He didn’t scream.
He didn’t even raise his voice.
However, the resentment in his voice was so deep that it intimidated her.
“What the hell do you want from me, really? Assistant? There are plenty of other witches who can fulfil that role. You’re a capable witch, there should be a lot of them who would beg you to guide them. And yet you ignored them and chose to torment me instead…”
“Shin Siwoo, I understand that you’re upset right now, but…”
“Answer me. What is it that you want from me that you chose to torment me like this?”
Siwoo got up from his seat and walked toward Amelia as if he was about to pounce on her.
He was just a normal human, someone she could easily blow away with a single spell.
However, it was the first time that Amelia witnessed such intense anger and fury.
The disdain and contempt in his scornful gaze turned Amelia into a helpless girl, unable to do anything.
She couldn’t even think of a spell to cast, only taking a step back to run away from him.
“If it’s about me hurting your pathetic pride five years ago, then I’m sorry. But, if you’re going to keep tormenting me with nonsensical excuses like this, I’d rather you kill me right now instead.”
Before she realized it, Amelia’s back had touched the door and she couldn’t take another step backward.
There was fear, confusion and bewilderment in her face as she was unable to process what was happening right now.
Her body was trapped under Siwoo’s shadow.
Finally, Siwoo’s screaming voice entered her ears. She opened the door with desperation and ran away without looking back.
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- 1It’s a polyhedron with twelve faces. If you don’t know what polyhedron is, it’s a three-dimensional shape with several flat faces, like cubes or prisms for example.