༺ The Aurillac (1) ༻
Normally, that’s what people would think.
Magic is needed to fly, and no human beings can fly without magic.
That was the conventional knowledge that Renee mentioned, but the answer that returned to her was beyond common sense.
“We can do it.”
Maximilian said. Renee’s head snapped up, while Albrecht remained stiff.
Maximilian continued to explain while looking at Renee’s puzzled expression.
“We’re working on that kind of technology. It’s still on the experimental stage and unstable, but it’s not unusable.”
Vera immediately recognized the technology that Maximilian was talking about.
A portable flying harness. It was a product that would be released in the market four years from now, along with the Crown Prince’s coronation. It was the item said to have opened up new horizons for Magical Engineering.
‘Have they reached the stage where it can already be used?’
Although Maximilian said it was unstable, it would be safe to say that they were on the right track, given his confidence.
Vera’s eyes lit up.
“If it is indeed that product, it is possible.”
They could draw near without getting caught by the magic detection of Aurillac. Just as Albrecht said, they would be able to dig in from the bottom and investigate the interior.
“How many people can use it?”
“Five. That’s the limit for now.”
Five. Under the assumption that he would be carrying Renee, all four Apostles, Albrecht, and even Count Baishur would be able to use it.
As Vera was thinking about such things, Renee, who had been listening to their conversation, swallowed hard and spoke.
“Uhm, it’s not dangerous, is it? If it suddenly breaks down and falls to the ground…”
It was a natural concern, asked with the intention that there should be some safety measures in place while flying. To such a question, Maximilian answered in a nonchalant voice.
“Then I guess we’ll just have to fall.”
“Brother is trying to say that only those with sturdy bodies who won’t be injured even if they fall should go up.”
Albrecht explained as he came back to his senses.
An awkward smile tugged at Renee’s lips. She was thinking to herself that they were so similar to the twins.
Do the others notice it as well? Maximilian continued speaking in the same tone as before.
“It will take about two weeks to prepare.”
“That would be after the festival begins.”
“That’s right. Is there anything else I should keep in mind during that time?”
Renee thought about the question for a moment and continued speaking with an “Ah!”
“There is someone from the Holy Kingdom who might know something about the Tower Master. We have sent him a message, and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear back from him, just in case it might be helpful.”
“Ah, are you talking about Trevor? The one that the Tower Master mentioned in the hallway just a while ago?”
It was Albrecht who answered, nodding his head up and down while laughter escaped his mouth.
“He might definitely know something. The way the Tower Master talked about him was suspicious. I wonder if it was an obsession born of love.”
Vera’s expression twisted upon hearing the words.
“…Trevor was only six years old at the time. Also, the Tower Master was more than a hundred years old.”
“I understand. Age is not important when it comes to love. This kind of love exists in this world as well.”
Renee shuddered at Albrecht’s answer, who said it in a playful tone.
The words slipped out of her mouth.
At that, Albrecht’s expression cracked.
Another week passed since their visit to the Imperial City.
There had been no missing people incidents since then.
That was enough to convince them that the Tower Master was behind all the disappearances.
In a calm before the storm, Renee and the others sat in the living room of the Count’s mansion and opened Trevor’s letter.
Vera’s face hardened when he saw how many letters there were inside the envelope.
“…It’s well over ten pages long. Maybe Trevor picked up something.”
“Could you read it, please?”
Renee asked with the same stiff expression.
Vera nodded his head in response, then began to read the first page of the letter.
“Saint, I have received your letter. I was so surprised to receive such a letter. By the way, how are you doing? The twins are in the midst of being depressed…”
Vera stopped talking, and Renee clenched her jaw.
At Renee’s words, Vera flipped through the letter with a stern face.
Starting from the first page, the greetings continued until the fourth page, followed by a long story that continued on for five pages. Vera, who read the letter quickly, found the main point… on the last page of the letter, in the last paragraph.
The letter was crumpled in Vera’s grasp, along with his expression.
The thought of Trevor writing a letter with nine pages of greetings and only one page and one paragraph of the main point was enough to make him furious.
He might as well give Trevor a good beating once he went back to the Holy Kingdom.
With that thought in mind, Vera sighed heavily and read the letter’s conclusion.
“…When I was in the Magic Tower, the Tower Magic was deeply engrossed in the study of the origins of life and species. From what I heard, her research is probably related to that. It was unfortunate. She finally crossed a line that should not be crossed.”
The origin of life and species. At those words, everyone in the room recalled the corpses they had seen in the slums.
Their suspicions were turning into confirmations.
They were kidnapping people to study the species.
As Renee was about to vent her anger at the thought, Vera read further.
“…If she was researching in secret, she probably used the lab in the basement of the Magic Tower. It’s a secret floor that only a few people, including the Tower Master, know about. If you are going to investigate, you should head over there.”
The information was quite shocking.
Renee spoke in a whisper.
“…Fortunately, we’re going to dig from the bottom and go up.”
“Yes, we have to let the Imperial Family know. I’ll relay the words to Count Baishur.”
“Please do so.”
As they quickly reached a conclusion, Vera handed a letter to Marie and Rohan, who had been sitting beside them, and the two left the room.
Now that she was alone with him, Renee spoke to Vera.
“…There’s about ten days left.”
“Yes, it will be busy with the start of the festival, so there will be fewer people wandering around the slums. The timing is just right.”
Suddenly, Renee felt a tightness inside her.
It wasn’t due to the fear of putting herself in danger. It also wasn’t because she was nervous if they could pull it off.
“Acting alone is unforgivable.”
She was worried about Vera.
It was the only thing that made her feel sick to her stomach.
Vera’s fingers twitched at Renee’s words, then he bowed his head as he answered.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Renee reached forward, extending her pinky finger.
“Promise me you won’t jump into anything dangerous without saying a word. If something happens that you need to do, promise me you’ll tell me.”
Don’t go by yourself. She wanted to say those words, but Renee knew better.
In truly desperate situations, she wouldn’t be of any help. In a combat situation, she would be an obstacle. As a blind person, it was more helpful to stay away from the battlefield to assist Vera.
That was why Renee was asking for this favor.
She would understand if she was left out of the fight, so she asked him to at least say something before he left.
If Vera did that, she could pray for him. Even if that was the only help she could give him.
Vera stared at her little finger, and hooked his own over it.
Vera knew it was his karma that Renee was pressing him with such a worried look. Hoping to reassure Renee a little bit, Vera made an oath with his power.
“If I have to jump into danger alone, I’ll make sure to tell you before I go.”
Upon their intertwined fingers, a golden divinity rose.
The festival began.
The Capital was packed, and the atmosphere was bustling.
The streets were lined with vendors sitting on stools, the tourists were huddling passing like a swarm of ants. There was a noisy, lively atmosphere.
However, there was one place where the atmosphere was different, and that was the low-income neighborhoods starting from 11th Street.
The 11th and 12th Street were unaffected by the festivities and had a more peaceful, if not deserted, feel to them. Most of the residents were out enjoying the festival.
It was a good thing for the group. They were able to move around inconspicuously as possible.
Muddy water splashed along with their footsteps. Renee frowned at the soggy feeling, then composed herself.
It was her second time visiting the slums.
Arriving at the rendezvous point with Albrecht, Renee spoke to him.
“Are the preparations over?”
“Ah, you’ve arrived. Now all we have to do is go.”
Albrecht smiled as he received Renee’s words.
Albrecht’s gaze swept over Vera, Rohan, and Marie, who were with Renee.
“What a reassuring force. Half of the Apostles of the Holy Kingdom are here, so it’ll be hard to lose if a fight breaks out.”
“Well, I couldn’t send my husband alone, so I came here. Don’t expect too much from me.”
Marie’s bravado was followed by Vera’s question.
“How are you going to dig through the ground? It won’t be made by just soil.”
“We have an excavator. It’s also just a prototype, but it should be enough to dig a hole big enough for people to pass through.”
With that, Albrecht patted a machine the size of an adult male that he had hidden behind him.
“We got your letter. With that in mind, my brother and I mapped out a possible location for the basement. After that, the answer was easier than we thought.”
Albrecht’s fingers were up in the air. He pointed towards the eastern end, where there was a lot of ground.
“That seems like the most likely place. So, we’re going to dig right in there.”
“First of all, everyone put these on. I’ll show you how to use this.”
There was the sound of something interlocking. Shifting his gaze to it, Vera raised an eyebrow at the large mechanical device strapped to Albrecht’s back.
The culmination of Magical Engineering, maximizing the power of the machine itself using the least amount of magic circuitry.
It was that.
“You use this by wearing it on your back and using the button on the left shoulder strap to control it. To change direction, just turn your body.”
With that, Vera slipped the jumper on his back before approaching Renee.
“Excuse me, Saint.”
Vera leaned over and slipped one arm behind Renee and the other hand under her knees, and lifted her up.
Renee flinched and shuddered at the sudden close distance with Vera, then quickly composed herself.
It was not the time to think about such idle thoughts.
“Okay, then let’s go.”
A clacking sound rang once more. At Albrecht’s signal, they began to activate the Jumper.
A slight vibration started to rise.
Then, Renee felt her body being lifted into the air.
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