I threw the needle and magnifying glass on the workbench and stretched.
I held the black fragment that was the size of my pinkie up to the light and was pleased with the result. Only my hands have improved a lot.
It was already night, and I don’t know how many hours have passed. The oil that I had poured in the lamp had decreased incredibly.
It was possible to create light with magic, but I didn’t want to use magic. I can’t concentrate on carving because the disgusting feeling distracts me.
I couldn’t study today since I worked overtime for the first time to carry the magic swords out.
No one forced me to work overtime, but I wanted to be able to do many things as soon as possible since I found out that I had to do my best on my own the other day.
The palace gates close at night, so I’m staying in a spare room in the government residence today.
This place had the best environment for a research institute since there was always a spare room available for those who make breakthroughs in their research.
I looked at Master’s room after I finished my work.
He seemed to be awake since there was still light coming from the gaps of his door. Should I show him the finished product and ask what he thinks of it? Nah, that could wait until tomorrow.
I collected the debris with a brush, brought out the trash can from under the workbench and emptied the debris into the can before leaving.
I took a step towards the entrance and stopped.
――― Something suddenly caught my eye.
I put the lamp next to the trash can that I had returned to the corner of the workshop and unfolded the crumpled papers which had been thrown away.
It was a blueprint written by Master.
What was drawn here was something that had been thrown away since I started working at the workshop. I know this since I was the one who put a trash can in here.
He’s been maintaining magic swords instead of producing them since I came here, so why did he need new blueprints?
This magic circle will never be used since he throws it away.
I became entranced with deciphering the papers and sat on the floor.
Then I remembered that this was the magic circle that I had seen on my first day of work.
I now knew that this was different from the magic circles used for weapons.
I grabbed the bundle of papers and opened the door to Master’s room since I wanted to know what it was for.
The smell of alcohol hit my nose.
One of the bottles of alcohol, which he either had to buy himself or had a servant in the office deliver to him, was lying on the bed where he was sitting, and the other was in his hand and he was drinking from it.
He had ignored my warnings about not drinking. I spread the papers out onto his hard bed.
“This is a magic circle to turn on light, isn’t it? And this is one for lighting a fire.”
The magic circle wasn’t complicated, and the amount of mana to be used was much lower than what would be used in a magic sword. I knew immediately that this wasn’t designed for use in battle.
“You were devising magic tools that could be used daily even before I suggested them. Why did you say they were trivial things?”
“Because they’re crap.”
He interrupted me as his unfocused eyes gazed over at the pieces of paper.
“We can’t create them. I’m going to make tools for killing people for the rest of my life. No matter where I go.”
Master laughed at himself.
“I thought I would never make weapons again after I escaped from Galesh, but look where I am. I can’t make a living anywhere else.”
“… You didn’t start working at the palace right after you defected, did you?”
I asked Master in the most subdued tone I could manage as he convulsed in laughter.
“Did you try to make a living as something other than a mage technician?”
“Yeah. I did everything. But you know… even that was better than the abominable years I spent in Galesh.”
Master arched his back and groaned as if he was remembering those days.
He looked as if he was in pain and was groaning.
“I met my wife in this kingdom and had a kid… but do you know how many people I’ve killed?”
I suppose he was asking how many people had died from the weapons he had produced during the war.
“I don’t know.”
His expression went blank, and he stared up at the ceiling.
“I’ve killed so many people… but I wanted money for my wife’s medicine, so I became a mage technician again, but I let her die in the end.”
“… Was your wife ill?”
“She became really thin at the end and died coughing up blood. Poor thing. I wish I was the only one who would suffer from this curse.”
Master’s red eyes glowed in the light of the lamp and tears welled up within them.
“My curse has been passed onto an innocent person.”
The regrets of a weak old man.
Did he sell himself to the palace to get money to buy medicine for his wife? But it was probably too late.
It was a misfortunate story.
“… What happened to your child?”
“They left right after my wife died. I don’t think they’ll come back.”
He had lost his family and was left alone in this world with his guilt.
Is that why he drank so much?
He has lived a pitiful life.
But ――― it wasn’t pity that rose up within me, but another emotion.
“You should get out of here before you regret it too, or else you’ll end up like me.”
I snatched his alcohol bottle just as he was putting it to his mouth and downed it.
I shouted as the liquid passed through my throat making it tingle with heat.
“WHY AREN’T YOU ANGRY?!”
I was dizzy from the alcohol, but I didn’t take my eyes off Master.
“You shouldn’t accept the misfortunes you’ve experienced and live the rest of your life idly!! How can someone who knows the sin of taking another life not raise their voice?!”
This person pissed me off the most since I started working here.
He knows better than I do that there are things that can never be undone and yet he has given up and become a drunken adult.
“Why did you design this magic circle? Who did you picture would use it?”
Master’s eyes widened in surprise when I asked him this and he let out a muffled grumble.
“… My wife. She said that it would be nice to have the lights turn on straight away when the sun sets…”
“Was what she said worthless?”
Master kept his mouth shut.
“It was a modest wish. It doesn’t have to do with life or death, but it wasn’t worthless, was it?”
It was significant.
“We still need weapons. We can’t just suddenly disarm even if we sign a peace treaty. The people at the top will reject this idea, so this isn’t the time to sulk. We must shout at those who don’t understand us and voice our opinions! A magic sword would’ve been more useful than a quick witted old man!”
It was still too early to give up even if you don’t have enough material to convince those around you.
There must be a way to convince them. The time will definitely come.
Don’t let the fire inside you die out until then.
“As I said! I did!”
Master screamed in grief.
His red face turned even redder and tears streamed down his dry cheeks.
“But no one would listen to me! Nothing has changed! I’m tired…”
“You have to keep trying until things change!”
I yelled back at him.
“The world doesn’t change that easily! But when one gear starts moving, other gears will be affected too! We can only believe that things can change little by little and keep moving forward!”
So, don’t stop. Don’t stop.
You’ll probably be filled with regrets no matter what road you take. Misfortune will come even if you do nothing.
“… I’m already old.”
Master said powerlessly.
“Yes, you are. I will move for you if you’re too old to move, so give me your wisdom.”
I put my palm out where he could see since he kept looking down.
Master hadn’t completely given up yet; if he had then he wouldn’t still be thinking about the magic circle his wife wanted.
“Let’s give it a shot. It’s better than dying as just a murderer, right?”
He looked up and remained silent for a while, so I waited for his answer.
Then, he let out the air that was in his lungs.
“… You’re a merciless girl for spurring on a dying old man.”
“You’re still young, Master.”
“I’m surprised you can lie like that.”
Master wiped his tears and breathed in as much air as he had exhaled.
I unfolded a fresh sheet of paper.
“I wanted to develop lighting fixtures when I was looking over your designs. My idea is simple, but I believe it’s quite revolutionary.”
“The design is almost finished but the problem is money.”
With our flushed faces, we put our heads together and the strategy meeting continued until the next morning.