༺ There are too many people above me (2) ༻
Memories from the past surged up. The painful memories of accidentally tapping on a message that wasn’t meant to be read, and then having to respond to it because the message showed ‘read’. Every time that happened, I pondered desperately if there was any way to revert it back to ‘unread.’
‘I wonder if breaking it would make it like it never happened.’
I struggled with the urge to throw the communication crystal against the wall. Would it be excusable to claim that the communication crystal was broken and that I was unable to receive messages? But if I did that, it might lead to even more troublesome situations.
No matter how I thought about it, the Executive Manager of the Special Service Agency was the worst. How could he do this to me? How many times had I turned a blind eye to what his family had done?
Feeling dejected, I closed my eyes and operated the communication crystal. It would become even more troublesome if I kept delaying it and the Mage Duchess contacted me first. Just thinking about that was frightening.
I looked at the blinking communication crystal with a bitter expression. It would be great if she didn’t receive the call so I could just leave a message instead. Please, don’t pick it up. Please, don’t pick it up. Please, don’t pick it up…
— Baby? Long time no see.
“I, heir of the Krasius family and Executive Manager of the Prosecutor’s Office, is calling Your Grace, the…”
— It’s okay. You don’t need to bother with the formalities.
She dismissed me as I bowed my head to greet her. The Mage Duchess didn’t like bothersome procedures and ceremonies, so she often cut it off if she thought that things would drag on. Of course, those who shortened greetings without the Duchess’s permission might find themselves in trouble.
— My child, you’ve become quite bold in the time we haven’t seen each other.
“I’m sorry, but what do you mean…?”
— I heard you were curious about a lady’s private life.
That bastard, he really said it all… Thanks for saving me the trouble of saying it myself.
While I was considering whether to investigate the Special Service’s Executive Manager’s family one more time, the Mage Duchess’s white eyes silently looked at me. I just can’t get used to those white eyes. It was hard to distinguish between the iris and the white, which was somewhat startling.
Still, the owner of those eyes was a beauty, so they felt more mystical than scary. The iris was closer to silver than white, and the pupil was also pale. The Mage Duchess, who seemed deep in thought, opened her mouth.
— I’ll be going to the Prosecutor’s Office, so wait for me.
Did I hear her wrong?
I made the mistake of questioning the Duchess’s words, but the words of the Mage Duchess were perplexing. To the Prosecutor’s Office? The Mage Duchess herself? No. Not only that, but I’m in the Academy in the first place.
“I was assigned to the Academy. So unfortunately, I won’t be able to welcome you.”
— Is that so?
The Mage Duchess tilted her head while her long ears perked up as if she’d encountered an unexpected problem.
— Should I go to the Academy, then?
“If you’re going to come personally, it would be rude for me not to return to the Prosecutor’s Office and greet you personally.”
— My baby, as expected. You’re so considerate of me.
“You’re flattering me.”
And my struggle ended just like that. I simply bowed my head at the indirect comment to stop fussing and come quickly. The Mage Duchess looked at me as if she were asking why I was squirming when I would submit anyways. It was a sad thing.
— I’ll send someone, so you can come comfortably.
“Thank you for your consideration.”
She meant that she would send a teleportation magician to ensure I couldn’t run off. I was so moved by the generosity that I felt like shedding tears.
There was no way to resist the call of the Mage Duchess. She was even going to send me a teleportation magician, so there was nothing I could do about it. I urgently contacted the Principal, Vice Principal, and Villar to tell them I had to go somewhere. At least those three needed to be aware of my absence so they could respond quickly in the case of an emergency.
As I waited for the magician to appear in the main building, someone popped out of thin air and dropped before me. They appeared faster than I thought. Well, he probably received a sudden order, so it was understandable why he hurried so much.
We looked at each other in understanding of each other’s feelings.
“Executive Manager, I came here to take you.”
We didn’t say anything unnecessary. For work comrades, it was best to each do our part and part ways.
See? This magician also disappeared when we appeared before the Ministry of Finance’s building. Disappearing after your duty was fulfilled was the attitude a good Civil Servant needed to have.
‘I’m back here again.’
After being left alone, I silently looked up at the Ministry of Finance’s building. When I left for the Academy, I wanted to come back soon, but this wasn’t what I had in mind. Did someone gift me a monkey’s hand? My wishes were coming true, but the process was a mess.
I sighed and was about to enter the Ministry of Finance’s building when the communication crystal shone.
— Executive Manager! We’re in trouble!
As soon as I received the call, the 2nd Manager’s face appeared. I reflexively shouted. Trouble? From the mouth of the 2nd Manager?
“You bastard! What did you do this time?!”
I instinctively cursed him. The Mage Duchess was going to visit, and yet the 2nd Manager said that there was a problem. Seeing how the message didn’t come via the Senior Manager, it must really be an urgent matter.
— I didn’t do anything! The Mage Duchess said she was going to pay a visit! We don’t know what happened!
With a look of injustice, innocence, and exasperation, the 2nd Manager blurted out words, leaving me speechless. Ah, so it wasn’t an overlapping incident. It was my doing, after all.
— We’re preparing to receive her, but can we handle this by ourselves? Executive Manager, shouldn’t you be here too?
“I’m already here.”
“I’ve also come.”
After a moment of silence, the 2nd Manager began shouting again.
— What did you do while you were outside?!
It was the first time this year that I was lost for words at something the 2nd Manager said. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry… Fuck, I didn’t know that bastard from the Special Service Agency would do this.
Beatrix Catoban of Servette, the Mage Duchess.
One of the five Dukes of the Empire.
It was said that the current Servette Duchess had reached the peak of magic. This wasn’t something people said lightly. Even the mages of the magic powerhouse, United Kingdom of Yuben, were no match for her.
Other magicians would find it unfair to be compared to her. After all, she wasn’t even human in the first place.
“My child, you shouldn’t make a lady wait.”
“I apologize, Your Grace.”
Long white hair and pointy ears. The blood of elves runs through the veins of the Catoban family, And the Mage Duchess was a half-elf. Among the five Dukes, who were practically non-human in various ways, the Mage Duchess stood out as a non-human, not just in terms of race but also in abilities and personality.
It was said that the Iron-blooded Duke was the oldest one, but that was the case only if we took into consideration the human Dukes. The Mage Duchess was a half-elf, so she was the oldest in reality. So calling her a lady was…
“Take a seat.”
My thoughts were interrupted by the words of the Mage Duchess. Although I was the host welcoming the guest, the title of Duke was enough to overturn such meaningless things.
The Mage Duchess seemed relaxed while drinking the tea the Senior Manager put on the table before he escaped. I wish she would realize how the pitiful Civil Servant before her felt. Or maybe it was better for her to just drink the tea silently.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
The Mage Duchess, who was savoring the fragrance of the tea with her eyes closed, opened them and looked at me. She put the teacup on the table and looked like she was about to start talking seriously.
“Since when did the Prosecutor’s Office become interested in a Duke’s private life?”
I was prepared for an attack, but this was too strong. The Mage Duchess seemed disappointed when I couldn’t find a proper answer.
“I thought we had a close relationship, but it seemed like it was one-sided. It hurts.”
“How could I not know Your Grace’s affection? It’s just that I failed to control my curiosity.”
I cautiously approached the Mage Duchess. She pointed downward with her fingers and understanding what she meant, I bowed my head. Her hand gently touched the top of my head. What was this? An implication that she would use a lightning spell to fry me?
“What hurt me the most was having heard the news about you through the Special Service Agency’s Executive Manager. Do you understand?”
“Yes. Yes, of course.”
“Good. Be careful from now on.”
Although her words were soft, in reality, she was annoyed that I had found information about her through the Special Service Agency.
Still, instead of burning my head with lightning magic, she lightly stroked my head. It felt like I’d become a dog for a moment, but I’m glad. It seemed she wasn’t thinking of blowing up the test subject yet. On days like this, I felt glad I had cooperated with the Mage Duchess’s experiments.
“You’ve seen a kid using my unique magic?”
It seemed like the Mage Duchess wouldn’t just forgive me but answer the mystery, too. Today was a lucky day…
“Isn’t she a girl with pink hair and blue eyes?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
It seemed like she remembered her appearance because she’d taught her unique magic. Then, had she raised a disciple intentionally? I wonder if there were more like Louise.
“She’s actually the daughter I gave up for adoption with tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she’d become after growing up.”
I was frozen at Louise’s unexpected secret of birth. It was disturbing enough that she was her disciple, but she was also her daughter…?
The Mage Duchess nodded at my reaction and kept talking.
“I was just joking because you seemed tense. Did you find it funny?”
“Your Grace’s sense of humor is always admirable.”
Seeing her satisfied smile, I managed to awkwardly smile back.
I momentarily forgot that this old woman liked to tell weird jokes.
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