The Rebirth of the Hero’s Party’s Archmage chapter 55

Episode 55

I had immersed myself in devising survival strategies over the weekend. The one I had considered “could be dangerous” had been upgraded to “is dangerous.”

“It’s like walking on thin ice…”

While I had no idea what Valencidus’s motives were (he, like me, was an expert who didn’t need to learn anything at school), finding out his motives had become secondary now that facing death seemed all too real.

Socrafres.

– You can inherit ‘unique magic’ research progress from your surroundings.

– Progress: 44.8%

If there was any consolation in this situation, it was perhaps the progress of my unique magic. It seemed to have increased by nearly 4% just on this expedition.

“Does the progress really surge when fighting strong opponents? Dark mages sure do come with a lot of bonuses.”

The last thing said by Livena, who had the same appearance as Lyn, also weighed on my mind. Something about a vessel to receive Lyn’s soul…

‘I don’t know what you’re planning using my soul, but it’s going to be a wasted effort.’

This didn’t seem too concerning at the moment. After all, Lyn’s soul was already inside this body.

My focus should be on the student council president, Valencidus.

Should I dig into why he was trying to create ‘Lyn’ by cornering him?

‘No.’

That wouldn’t be a wise choice, considering my body hadn’t fully recovered from the venom infiltration.

‘More importantly, he…’

His demeanor was different from Livena, whose sole purpose was unilateral slaughter. His actions had made me even more curious about Tureina.

“Bonus, bonus, bonus.”

Pipi, pecking away at a scattered corn kernel on the desk, imitated my murmuring.

This creature was also a source of concern.

Pipi was undeniably powerful against lower-level magical beasts, but it had been next to useless against true strong opponents. Even more so given its current weakened state.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have brought you along.”

I slumped over the desk, heaving a sigh. Perhaps angry that I scattered the corn kernels, Pipi pecked at my cheek with its beak.

“Ow, sorry, my bad!”

And there was another issue that was as grave as the student council president’s problem. It was the murmurs I heard while walking through the schoolyard during my commute.

“Hey, have you heard? Professor Elin was captured by ‘the Golden Children.’”

“Really?”

“Was she studying black magic?”

The rumors were starting to tarnish the reputation of Aunt Elin, who had risked danger to protect me.

As she had not shown herself at school even after the holiday, the suspicion seemed to amplify.

‘I need to come up with a plan…’

She could be very annoying with her constant bickering, but she was a good person. And, in the end, this was all because of me.

Sighing heavily, Rayne headed toward the office of the Dragon Management Division.

* * *

“Master Rayne, are you requesting an audience with the Chancellor right now?”

<Delaiten> Chancellor’s Office.

The secretary tilted their head in confusion. No one had ever dared to request an audience with the Chancellor directly.

“Perhaps one could call it a ‘Chief Cadet’s predicament’… There are things I wish to inquire about, could this be possible?”

Such a request was so uncustomary that both the requestor and the messenger thought it would be naturally rejected.

“Who’s requesting an audience?”

Yet, when the secretary entered the office to relay the request,

“Rayne Ludwick.”

The interests of Madelia Paige, who had been mechanically stamping final approvals on various urban management issues and academic reports, were piqued.

“Interesting. Let him in.”

And so, the audience with the Chancellor was approved with shocking simplicity that even the secretary paused their thoughts for a moment in disbelief.

The Chancellor’s Office was a room illuminated on all sides by dazzling sunlight.

It was said that the founder of magic, Emita Paige, longed to bask in the light of the Black Sun, Karenden, and built this room with a poignant history.

‘Wow, this is where the first Sage dwelled…’

While admiring the room from a reception couch, my gaze was caught by a dignified and beautiful woman crossing her legs, sipping from a teacup.

“It’s the first time we’re speaking one-on-one, isn’t it?”

“That’s correct, Chancellor.”

“Are Keiven and Brim doing well?”

“Yes, they are in good health.”

“Hmm.”

I straightened my posture slightly nervously.

Her hair, the color of fresh spring leaves, shone like jewels in the sunlight. Her purple eyes carried an air of nobility without the slightest ripple in her demeanor.

From the force of this heroic figure who reigned at the pinnacle among the new generation of mages (Skalzy and Marhena belonged to the old generation), my hair stood on end.

“I’ve heard a lot about you from the professors. Owen, your tutor, couldn’t stop singing your praises.”

“What?”

It would have been less shocking if Owen had declared he was giving up physical exercise. Everyone said he wouldn’t even praise his own parents…

“Not just Owen. There are several people who recommended you. Now, tell me, why have you come to see me?”

Skipping over the niceties, she went straight for the core of the matter—as befitting a magician.

I explained succinctly.

About borrowing a book from Tureina and getting caught by an auditor when I tried to return it, and how Elin was taken into custody while trying to protect me.

“…So you see, Aunt Elin was taken because of me.”

“I see.”

“Can you do anything to prevent any detriment to Aunt Elin? As Chancellor, I mean.”

Madelia listened to my story while occasionally sipping her tea; her eyes narrowed.

“This isn’t about discussing your aunt’s fate, is it? This seems like an issue that concerns your own fate.”

“…”

“You knew that first-years aren’t allowed to borrow books, yet you proceeded, flaunting your status as the heir of your Household. If we let this slide easily, it will undermine the school’s regulations.”

I realized too late when faced with Madelia’s piercing gaze.

Was Aunt Elin protecting me not because of the heresy interrogation but for this? I swallowed my dry spit.

What came next was critical. The ticking from the wall clock seemed to jab irritatingly at my ears.

“That’s why I’ve come to propose a trade.”

As I spoke, Madelia looked at me, curiosity lifting her brows.

“A trade? Between you and me?”

“I am the current <Delaiten> Chief Cadet and the legitimate heir to the Ludwick House. There must be something small, at least, that I could offer the Chancellor.”

Madelia seemed amused by Rayne’s audacious words, and then…

Internally gasping as if surprised, she swallowed a needless breath.

“The reactions of the chicks when they face me usually fall into two categories…”

They either become severely intimidated and stutter profusely or are so overwhelmed with awe that they end up saying nothing at all.

And it’s not just chicks, right?

Even the magicians with specialized jobs in magic were no different. However, this guy… How come he speaks so fluently without any hesitation?

– I heard your son is called a waste of a noble.

There was a time when she shared the same sorrow with Kevan Ludwick due to their children’s issues. Nevertheless, Kevan just smiled broadly.

– He’s just not ready to break out of his shell yet.

That’s it, you just have to wait. With love and faith.

Recalling the clever words of her junior, Madellia rested her chin on her interlocked fingers and smiled.

“Interesting. Maybe I should listen to a story. So, what’s the deal?”

“If you tell me what you can offer, perhaps we can work something out.”

“You seem to be under a misconception. It’s your job to persuade me with an attractive offer right now… no, hold on.”

As if something had just occurred to her, Madellia put down her teacup and seemed to ponder deeply before abruptly bringing up an idea.

“Lane Ludwick, would you like to be a tutor for my daughter?”

For a moment, Lane doubted his ears.

A daughter? A tutor?

He remembered hearing from his father that the Page household also had a young lady, but he never met her and had forgotten.

Still, he never imagined it would come up in this situation.

“You do know I’m only sixteen, right?”

The Pages are a magic family. No, not just any magic family, but one that traces its lineage directly from the founder of magic.

It was customary for the Pages’ tutor to be appointed from among magicians who were considered the best of their time.

Considering bloodline limitations and other factors, since people like Kevan and Scalzi taught him at his current age, it would make sense for Chancellor Madellia herself to be teaching…

“Isn’t it evidence of extraordinary talent that you topped this year’s golden generation of cadets? Plus, I heard you were an assistant under Sir Scalzi Ludwick for three years?”

“No, even so….”

Teaching others is a rather bothersome task. Having only taught two people up to now, hmm, it feels like robbing the time for my own studies.

“If you agree, I’ll explain to the school that Elin has been sent on temporary assignment elsewhere in my name.”

“……!”

“And I’ll also withdraw the talk of punishment that was mentioned earlier. What do you think? It’s not like you’ll be guiding for years. Just two or three months is fine. I think it’s a good deal for you.”

He hesitated for a moment, stroking his chin, contemplating the responsibility of guiding someone.

But the deal allowed him to obtain everything he desired. The immediate problem seemed so easily soluble.

How hard could tutoring be, really?

“Alright. I’ll give it a try.”

Yet, at this moment, perhaps he should have paused more noticeably and thought deeper.

If so much is offered in a bargain, a corresponding something must surely exist…

And so the archmage met the girl.

* * *

The night they returned to the Imperial Palace of Law after finishing a five-year expedition, a meteor shower decorated the night sky, heralding the start of a golden age.

The members of the hero party sat or leaned against the balustrade of the Imperial Palace, gazing up at the shooting stars.

“If Lindo saw this, he would’ve been so happy.”

With a rueful smile, Rista murmured as such, and, in that moment, the group shuddered with an inevitable sadness.

“Yeah, he would’ve made a fuss, but he would’ve just gleamed with his eyes watching out for us.”

The oracle of the dragon, Freida, gave a snicker to lighten the mood. Yet, silence settled again. Everyone simply stared blankly at the meteor shower.

“It felt like our journey would never end, but now, it’s finally over.”

Tureina, the youngest of the party, flared up at Rista’s remark. Her voice shook tragically.

“It’s not over.”

“……?”

“It’s not over, I tell you! How can you say such a thing! With our master in such a state……!”

“Tureina……”

“It’s not over, not until master returns, it’s not over, never……!”

With that, before anyone could stop her, Tureina ran off into the distance, pushing Lindo’s straw hat over her eyes to hide her tears, with Kies and Pippi chasing after her.

Freida looked after her with pity, expelling a cloud of smoke and turning her gaze to Rista.

“What are we going to do now?”

“We wait. Until Lindo returns.”

“Rista……”

“Lindo said he would come back. So he surely will. I just have to wait.”

Freida felt a pang of sharp sorrow at Rista’s words.

“But you know, right… Your lifespan isn’t much longer.”

A FakeWarrior, someone who amplifies their strength by embodying the spirit of a dragon within their body, gains power beyond the norm at the cost of their lifespan.

For a FakeWarrior in this time, their average lifespan was barely into the mid-twenties. At best, the late twenties.

Rista, always at the forefront of the quest, had used that power throughout the five years. She probably had about three years left to live, at most.

“Is that so?”

But Rista, the hero who always led her comrades with a bright smile like the sun, her silver hair waving in the night wind, smiled broadly as always and replied.

“If it doesn’t work out in this life, I can always wait in the next one, right? And if not then, the life after that.”

For a moment, Freida could only stare at Rista with widened eyes, before bursting into helpless laughter.

“You’re incorrigible, really.”

She puffed another cloud of smoke into the night sky, leaning against the balustrade.

“You do know that was blasphemous, right?”

In reality, the teachings of the Holy Dragon Church rejected the concept of three lifetimes, propagating the doctrine of heaven and hell. Rista’s words were something only heretics would claim.

“Could you turn a blind eye this time, my lady priestess?”

“Heh. My lord hero, are you asking me face-to-face?”

The two women shared a laugh in silence.

In a laughter intermingled with joy and sadness, the final meteor quietly sliced across the dew in their eyes.

From that day, until the heroes of Rista’s party departed from this world, the realm welcomed its golden age.

Like flowers blooming over a grave, over the death of the young archmage.



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