The Rebirth of the Hero’s Party’s Archmage chapter 54

Episode 54

On a clear, sunny weekend morning, I gathered Tureina’s book and went outside.

Although I considered studying Tureina’s abilities, I wasn’t familiar enough with sorcery to venture into that field.

The wound still ached and throbbed due to the lingering effects of the poison, but I had to deliver this book to Karen.

‘That man will be busy from now on…’

He would have to forge loan certificates and affix a new library stamp to the book.

Just as I hurried out through the dormitory’s front gate, I collided with something that suddenly appeared, causing me to drop the book.

“Ouch…”

Under normal circumstances, I would have just been slightly pushed aside, but due to the wounds sustained at , I fell flat on my bottom.

“Are you alright?”

The other person asked politely and reached out a hand. I grabbed it and stood up without much thought, but then, in that instant, my heart and breath stopped.

It was the student council president, Valensidis.

Valensidis, who had helped me up, picked up the book now covered in dust and gently dusted it off. I grew so nervous that my palms began to sweat.

“『Lynn and Friede’s Disciple: The Life and Achievements of the Priestess of Ashes, Tureina』…?”

Oh no…

Come to think of it, this guy is also a dark mage, right? Was he waiting for me? To retrieve the book? No, that couldn’t be it.

‘Is it revenge for his comrades?’

This is also uncertain. Not all dark mages belong to the same faction… and I took both of them down, so they couldn’t have leaked my information.

“You seem like a jokester, but you read books like this?”

Valensidis’ eyes glimmered with a strange light.

I needed to remain calm.

If Valensidis was indeed an ally of theirs, the one who showed emotion first would lose here.

“There’s no reason not to read it.”

I tried to sound cocky, but my mouth had already dried up.

Given my current condition, if I were to fight this guy—who is undoubtedly several times stronger than Ribeni—I would die in less than five seconds without exaggeration.

Valensidis scoffed as if he couldn’t believe it.

“How surprising. Don’t you know this book is classified as forbidden?”

“A forbidden book?”

“All books related to Tureina are currently banned. Did you borrow this from the library?”

“Yes.”

“Then it’s a big problem. The ‘Golden Children’ are currently at the central library.”

This is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I could feel my breath being sucked out of me. So, a dark mage was in front of me, and the Inquisition behind me…?

My pupils shook uncontrollably, but surprisingly, Valensidis turned his back and started walking away.

‘Phew…’

I was about to let out a sigh of relief when Valensidis glanced back over his shoulder.

“Why aren’t you following?”

“…?”

“Why are you so flustered? Do I seem like the kind of person who would hand a junior over to the Inquisition?”

He isn’t that kind of person. He’d rather kill them brutally as a dark mage than let them enjoy the luxury of an interrogation.

My heart trembled as I gazed into those deep, hollow eyes.

But I couldn’t show it, so I responded with a playful smirk.

“Of course not. Unless you’re planning to blackmail me with this.”

Valensidis snorted and walked off in a different direction.

“I was going to show you the way to the library’s back door, but if you don’t need it, that’s fine.”

In desperation, I grabbed Valensidis’ sleeve.

“You know I respect you, President. I just wanted to chat longer with you, so I was joking a little.”

This was a subtle battle of nerves. I couldn’t let Valensidis know that I was wary of him and dark mages.

If I refused a suggestion without any good reason, he’d surely suspect me.

I had to act under the assumption that he was in league with Ribeni.

“…”

Valensidis stared directly at me, as if measuring me up, before sighing, shaking his head, and gesturing for me to follow.

As we crossed the campus, several cadets greeted Valensidis warmly.

Some asked math questions, and others complained about the limited club funds, but he answered each one sincerely.

‘What an enigma of a guy.’

Watching him like this, I couldn’t imagine he was on the same side as Ribeni. It seemed like they belonged to different factions.

“Do I look like a good person because I’m doing good deeds?”

After passing through the campus and entering a secluded garden near the library’s back, Valensidis suddenly asked.

“No.”

“Good. Don’t judge people too hastily. The way people speak, their expressions, and their actions… it’s all easy to disguise. Those who hide their true intentions are the most terrifying.”

Valensidis said this in such a chilling tone that I could hardly endure it. What was he trying to imply? Why was he saying that?

“Are you talking about Tureina?”

I pretended not to know.

But Valensidis’ voice dropped ominously, and he gave an ambiguous answer.

“Perhaps.”

My eyes wavered. Does he know about Tureina? If she truly did submit to dark magic, it’s not impossible.

But should I ask him about it?

At that moment, wouldn’t he suspect that I knew his identity?

Maybe this was bait. I was racking my brain, caught in a high-stakes mental battle, when—

“You weren’t around during the holiday. Did you go somewhere nice?”

Valensidis struck me to the core with a quiet, direct question. I instinctively tried to respond but then just kept my mouth shut.

‘Should I make the first move?’

The breeze passing through the garden sent a chill down the side of my neck.

The grating noise of crunching gravel underfoot echoed harshly in my ears, and a cold sweat broke out across my back.

Initiating the attack was inevitable. I couldn’t afford to hold back my strength. Capturing him wasn’t an option. I’d have to kill him… but how would I explain it afterward?

“──No, I didn’t borrow it!”

Amid the rustling of the woods, a voice echoed. We were at the end of the garden maze, just around the corner from the library’s back door.

“But the loan certificate has Professor Elin Ludwig’s name on it?”

“Oh, seriously, I didn’t—”

“Is that so?” The voice was unmistakably that of Aunt Elin.

What’s going on…?

As Valensidies dashed past, he soon spotted Elin Ludwick, in the midst of an argument in front of the back door.

“Aunt Elin, over there…”

In front of her were a man and a woman, both clad in breastplate armor engraved with the symbol of the dragon Haraderym in pure gold, carrying shields and maces. They were members of the ‘Golden Children,’ the heretical inquisition under direct orders from the Papal State.

The man looked back at Rain with a stony expression, while the woman, who had been speaking politely with Elin, whistled.

Suddenly confronted by her nephew, with a look of chagrin and surprise on his face, Elin Ludwick assessed the situation in a flash. Clasping her arms in front of her in a haughty pose, she denied everything defiantly.

“Look, it wasn’t me who borrowed it, since I was planning to return it today.”

“?”

“If that good-for-nothing nephew of mine had followed my instructions just a bit faster, I wouldn’t be in the situation of borrowing the book now, would I?”

Then she snatched the book from Rain roughly without a word, whispering with only the shape of her lips. The inquisitors exchanged looks, clearly finding Elin’s behavior preposterous. The most dumbfounded, however, was Rain.

Without sighing even once, the female inquisitor continued with a smile.

“I understand. So you acknowledge that you did borrow the book, even though you’re not currently borrowing it?”

“That’s what I’ve been saying. But why is it a forbidden book?”

It was going to be a bit of a hassle but dealing with the inquisitors wasn’t going to be much of a loss for Elin herself.

She hadn’t used black magic to break a taboo, nor had she become a follower of Turena. All she had done was read a biography of a historical figure.

Rain was just a cadet, and every second of time was more valuable than at any other point in his life… It was better, she decided, to protect that for him.

“It’s a bit difficult to discuss here. Could you spare me a moment of your time?”

“Of course. But you do know that I’m busy, right? I am the genius professor of .”

“I am aware. And would you please hand over that book to us? A seizure order has already been submitted to the central library.”

Elin Ludwick held her head high and maintained her haughty demeanor even while being taken away by the inquisitors…

Watching her, Rain hastily ran into the library to fetch the librarian Karen, and brought her out through the back door. Karen, who had been in a constant state of worry about the inquisitors’ arrival, paled.

“I only just found out about this… I have no excuse for how distracted I’ve been.”

Karen explained the mix-up that had led to Elin borrowing a book under Rain’s name instead of his.

That’s how it was…

It seems both of them were out of it at that time. To accidentally write my name in the library’s ledger for a first-semester first-year’s loan. I felt ashamed to face my aunt wrapped up in this mess.

“Karen, as a librarian, you’re familiar with forbidden books, aren’t you?”

“Yes?”

“Do you also know the punishments for reading them?”

Forbidden books are classified into three grades.

The first grade, ‘Ang’ (Catastrophe), consists of books publicly known to everyone as forbidden, such as those about the ‘Forgotten Kings,’ the lords of the abyss.

“The second grade, ‘Gui’ (Ghost)… these are books that compile black magic. There are no officially published editions, with most being manuscript copies or ancient volumes.”

The third grade is ‘Xian’ (Danger), books that could potentially be dangerous fall into this category.

In such cases, rather than making a public announcement, the Holy See quietly acts to confiscate the spread books across the continent.

Most owners do not know that their book is forbidden until a bookseller or library librarian informs them.

“Turena’s book here is Xian-grade. If you’re not a person with a flamboyant criminal record or a suspect, you’ll undergo a few investigations and be done with it.”

Hearing this slightly reassured him. He didn’t like to burden others, and Aunt Elin was family after all.

“But how did you manage to obtain it? I heard was in chaos…”

He had indeed gotten it from … Instead of saying that, he simply shrugged as if it was an industry secret and turned to leave. But Karen suddenly bowed deeply in gratitude.

“Thank you, young master. I will never forget this favor for as long as I live.”

Rain hesitated for a moment.

It was a trip that brought him substantial benefits… excluding the part where he caught the attention of dark wizards.

It was a trivial matter, but it seemed mighty important to this person.

“That’s alright. It was merely a convenient coincidence.”

“Do you realize how many people there are who wouldn’t have taken that co-incidence into account?”

“That’s enough… Just make sure to manage the books properly in the future.”

Despite feeling a warm sensation inside, he did not show it and quickly left the spot with a wave of his hand, perhaps to hide his bashfulness.

* * *

‘His expression is too honest…’

Valensidies, who had been watching the whole process from the darkness of the garden, narrowed his eyes.

‘As talented as he is as a mage, his talent as a spy seems quite terrible.’

Rain Ludwick—when he sensed Valensidies’ lethal intent and increased his mana, Valensidies became certain.

The dingy smell from the covers, which could only come from the sewers, was enough to know that it was a book taken from .

‘So he really was the one who dealt with Libeni and Millek…’

Sighing with a sound close to lament, Valensidies conjured a dark blue flame in his hand, promptly incinerating the book he held, leaving no trace behind.

The leather bound book, which turned from charred black to ash, bore this inscription:

[The life and achievements of Turaina, the priestess of the Ashes, a disciple of Lin and Fride.]

During the encounter, he had switched the book with an expert sleight of hand.

The book confiscated by the inquisitors would have the library stamp on it, so there would be no problem. It was the same book that Valensidies once took from the central library.

As Valensidies coldly watched the ashes of Turena’s biography scatter, he disappeared silently into the darkness.



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