02 Part 01
The heavy snowfall which seemed like a whim of the heavens didn’t last long and quickly disappeared.
Then like the year before, the rays of the sun softened and spring was in the air.
I was getting ready at the boarding house on a morning when I could see the budding greenery on the street outside my window.
I had returned last night and had to go to school today. It was still early but I would be late if I left at the same time I did when I stayed in the dormitory.
I quickly finished getting dressed and was about to tie up my hair when Rille-nee stopped me. I turned around with a ribbon in my mouth and she quickly snatched the ribbon from my mouth.
“I’ll do it for you.”
“Huh? Are you sure?”
“You can’t have a hair out of place today.”
Rille-nee refused to hand me the ribbon. She sat me down on the chair and stood behind me holding a brush. Umm, I can tie my hair up however I want though.
My hair reached down to my shoulders. Rille-nee carefully combed my hair which had been trimmed every once in a while, so that it wouldn’t grow too long.
The gentle touch of her fingers tickled my scalp.
“Aren’t you going to get ready, Rille-nee?”
“I’m already dressed.”
Hmm, I shouldn’t have asked.
Rille-nee was especially quick at getting ready, but well, I’m the same too. We have been merchants since young and time is money. It was enough for a worker to be well-groomed to a certain extent.
“What kind of hairstyle do you want?”
Rille-nee asked me how I wanted my hair while combing.
“In a ponytail like always.”
My standard hairstyle was to tie my hair in a high ponytail. It was quick and easy to do on busy mornings and looked reasonably decent and it didn’t get in the way.
But Rille-nee wasn’t happy with my response.
“Are you sure you want your hair in a ponytail?”
“Yeah. It’s not like I’m going to a party and it’s better to have my hair in my usual hairstyle at a time like this.”
“Hmm… Alright, then why don’t I braid your hair into two braids?”
She wanted to take her time with my hair. I smiled.
“I like ponytails because they’re simple.”
“It’s your big day. You can’t put your hair up in a simple ponytail on your big day. Just sit there and let me do your hair.”
“Okay. I’ll leave it to you, Rille-nee.”
So, Rille-nee braided my hair into two braids and put some oil that she received from Sonia-san to make my hair look shinier.
I could smell flowers whenever I moved my head. The scent wasn’t sweet, but rather refreshing like lily of the valley.
I was impressed that Rille-nee had mastered how to make someone pretty without my knowledge. I will thank Sonia-san tonight. She doesn’t get up often in the mornings.
Rille-nee smiled after she adjusted the position of the ribbon.
I put on my robe once my hair was done and was off.
I went downstairs with Rille-nee and Anna-san, the strong landlady, noticed us and yelled at us from the kitchen.
“You’re already off?”
“I’m going to prepare a feast for you tonight, so come back early.”
A feast prepared by Anna-san! Everything she made tasted superb, so I couldn’t help but be excited.
“Did you forget anything?”
Rille-nee asked me at the entrance.
I would normally leave the house with a shoulder bag stuffed full of books, notebooks, and a change of clothes but I wasn’t leaving with any of those things this morning. I didn’t need to carry anything with me today.
I saw the white morning sun and the pale blue sky outside. There was a slightly chilly wind blowing, indicating that the night wasn’t over.
“Have a good day.”
I turned around to look at Rille-nee and waved my hand at her.
I visited the palace again when spring arrived at the capital.
I was in the white central palace with my classmates from school even though I never thought I would ever step foot in here.
Once we had assembled at school, the teacher took us through the halls of the palace. The sound of shoes echoed in the halls. The carefully polished floor reflected the soft sunlight.
In a hollow in the wall in front of us stood three plaster statues.
The bearded Santa look-a-like figure in the centre was Cephas Cronoran, the first king. The royal family’s surname was taken from the Cronoran Palace. It was like the Imperial surname in Japan.
To his left was a slightly smaller status of a thin man without a beard, the great Founding Mage, Ellis Rain.
He was said to have been given most of the Sky God’s favour. He was clad in a long robe that reached down to his feet and was looking up at the sky.
And to his right was the statue of a great warrior in armour. Aldus Sonnier, a general who, like Rain, contributed to the founding of the nation and whose name was as famous as the roar of thunder.
His sharp, stern gaze was looking at his feet as if he was keeping close watch to see if any of us would harm the king.
This was General Owen’s ancestor even though he didn’t look like him. I remembered later that I had heard the name Sonnier in class. He’s really a troublesome man… Well, he’s alright for now though.
I gazed at the three artistic statues and then it was finally time for the king, who wasn’t a statue, to appear.
Everyone dropped to one knee once the silent signal was given, bowed their heads and looked to the floor.
A lowly noble or commoner would normally not be granted an audience with the king, but today was special.
And because we were in a special position in the hierarchy ――― to be precise, we were granted an audience today to receive proof of our special status.
“Lift your faces.”
I never imagined that I would hear this line in real life.
We remained on our knees and only raised our faces after the King spoke.
The King, who looked kind and dignified, stood with his back to the statue and looked at each student’s face.
He called our names one by one, and we stepped forward in front of him, then he put a white robe over each student’s shoulders.
This was the Magic School’s graduation ceremony.
Those who have mastered all the spells assigned to them, mastered the theory behind magic and were recognised as mages received personal blessings from the King.
It was clear from this ceremony that mages are held in high esteem in this kingdom and on this continent.
King Victorin, the current ruler of the Traus Kingdom, smiled at me as I came before him. His smile was kind just like Alec’s.
“I owe you a great deal.”
He whispered as he put the robe on me. He was probably referring to what had happened with his son and daughter.
I was prepared for their parents to be mad at me for helping her sneak around and helping Alec fly but their parents didn’t seem angry.
I had a strange connection with the royal family. I would have met all the royal family members once I meet the Queen, but that doesn’t really matter.
I couldn’t speak to the King without his permission. I kept my eyes down, received his quiet appreciation, and quickly stepped back, so that I wouldn’t get in the way of anyone else.
Alec, the Prince, was also a student until today, and he received a white robe from his father to show that he was a full-fledged mage.
When everyone had received their robes, the King addressed the whole group.
“You all have overcome every obstacle thrown your way and made it this far. The path you are on is a special one that no one else can follow. I hope that you will continue onward and that one day you will lead the people into happiness instead of God.”
The busy King Victorin left after his brief speech.
The audience was short, but it was enough to move the young people.
I was a little moved too but not by the King’s encouragement.
I shouted the moment I left the white palace.
“I did itttt!!”
After working hard for 10 years after becoming an orphan, I finally became a high salary earner like I dreamt.
There was no job interview. There will be an information session after this at the Magic Research Institute after this and then I have to write down which department I want to go to and submit it.
A stable government employee. I don’t have to worry about being on the street anymore as long as the nation doesn’t perish.
The pure white robe that shone in the sun symbolised everything I have accumulated in my second life.
So, isn’t it fine?
It’s okay to get a little excited.
“Don’t yell, you moron.”
“Shut your mouth!”
“Where the heck do you think you are?!”
Rock, Cliff, and Mary as well as the teacher and other alumnus glared at me.
… I don’t think they’re really that upset.
I know you’re not supposed to make a fuss in front of the palace where the king is. Alec was the only one to congratulate me afterwards.
“Are you going to the information session as well, Alec?”
I asked him and Rock as we walked to the institute together.
Of course, there was no way the Prince would be working at the institute. It would be pointless for him to attend the information session, but he seemed interested in it.
“And this is the last day I can spend with my friends. Wouldn’t it be a shame if I left already?”
We had all moved out of the dormitory already and he won’t be returning to the school. It was really goodbye. It was weird since we are living in the same place.
“Then, I’m going to be rude to you and Rock one last time.”
“Remember that tomorrow.”
Rock warned in a low voice.
I was joking. He always threatened me like this, but I wanted him to stop since it was a real threat now.
Matty, who was the one who worried the most about finding a job, passed the exam… with flying colours!
He was also here in his white robes.
He was a mage even though he couldn’t use magic. I guess he’s similar to me since I’m a mage who isn’t good at magic.
The exam consisted of questions on projects that were on-going as well as new projects and was in the same format that Harold-sensei had told us.
Matty said that the questions given to everyone else were more difficult.
I was feeling a little guilty since I asked him to come up with a lot of spells for me to help him study for his exam, but I made things difficult for him by contradicting his opinions.
I enjoyed debating with him so much that I couldn’t help myself. Well, he passed the exam, so things turned out alright in the end!
Matty had already been notified that he will be working at the Magic Research Institute and will also attend the information session.
The Royal Magic Research Institute was built on the west side of the palace, in the opposite direction of the military department that I visited before.
The building was also very bright and open with a lot of white and blue ornaments, and the new recruits who came to visit were welcomed with applause by the people who were there.
Some of the people who were clapping were teachers and some were complete strangers.
“This is where we do most of our research.”
Theobold Rain, the head of the research institute, showed us around.
He was related to Ellis Rain, the most powerful mage of the Founding Age, just as his name suggested.
But I heard that he wasn’t a direct descendant.
The eccentric hero who helped found this nation had no children, but he did have a younger brother and Director Theobold was a descendant of his brother.
He looked around 40 years old.
The wrinkles between his browns and his stern boss expression made me think that he didn’t get to his position solely because of his connections. His appearance was a contrast to the friendly aura in the institute.
He didn’t raise an eyebrow at Alec’s presence and after a polite greeting, explained the facilities in a lively way without paying any more attention to Alec. His behaviour was more military-like than mage-like.
The research institute was divided into sections with low partitions placed in each section and the sections were easily divided like offices.
Even though they were researching different things, they had magic in common, so they should be able to freely visit each other and exchange ideas.
Research cannot be done alone, so those who didn’t like cooperating with others weren’t suited to be researchers.
I looked around the office and found that the spell development department occupied the largest space.
I overheard a group of people discussing various offensive spells written on a blackboard in front of them.
I guess developing spells for military use was top priority.
We learnt not only to create wind and fire at school but also how to direct them at an opponent, but I would like to avoid using magic on people if possible.
There was also a section that was quietly researching the characteristics of magic stones and a department was a combination of school education and researching the Mitoan people.
There was also a large training facility built of stone for testing and practicing new magic as well as a government housing where researchers can sleep.
They didn’t just do research here; sometimes the senior mages were sent out on escort missions like a soldier would.
Although, research was their main occupation nowadays since the world was at peace, but if we were at war then mages would be counted as one of the assets.
My goal was to work in the magic tool development section where mage engineers work.
They were the only ones who didn’t have an office.
The school doesn’t offer classes on magic stone processing. The specialised artisans know how to process magic stones and it was said that normal mages cannot learn the technique.
So I waited with anticipation, but Director Theobald only pointed out that the artisan workshop was ahead but didn’t proceed any further.