The Second Mission #2
Soon after receiving Veronica's call, Vince hurried to the Tower Master's office. Veronica told him the whole story and said that he would be one of the two people being dispatched. Vince's expression hardened at the mention of the word 'slave.' To him, a criminal organization which sold intelligent species for money were the worst gutter rats.
"I understand the mission," Vince replied in a tone which was different from his usual cold self. "Liberate the slaves from the organization, [Shackler], and eliminate members of said organization. In addition, find out why they've come to Meltor and investigate the truth behind the deal, right?"
"Exactly. If there is some room, capture the commander. If you can't afford it, torture and kill them."
It was a bloody conversation, but this was normal when it came to Red Tower tasks. Things couldn't always go smoothly, and sometimes violence was needed. The royal family allowed Red Tower magicians to commit violence, and they even had the right of execution depending on the circumstances.
Moreover, utilizing torture in order to extract information was, of course, acceptable. It was why Meltor's villains didn't dare go against red robes. War mages were an existence on an entirely different level to them.
"...Tower Master," Vince spoke to the Red Tower Master instead of immediately leaving the room.
Apart from the difficulty of the mission, he didn't want his disciple to dip his feet in a dirty ditch like this. It was enough for Vince to dirty his hands. He should be able to handle this much of a force on his own.
However, Veronica realized his thoughts and shook her head. "No. I don't have a good feeling about this. The information from the White Tower is excellent, but they couldn't find out everything. If there are more hidden forces, then you won't be strong enough on your own. Take the kid."
"Theodore is still only 19 years old."
"He is also a 5th Circle magician. This Veronica has personally seen that he has a promising future."
The gazes of the two people clashed in the air. Neither of them doubted Theo's skills. Theodore's capabilities had already surpassed the top Average, and he could keep up with his mentor, Vince. Above all, it was important that the person involved, Theodore, didn't intend to refuse the mission.
Theo took a step forward and broke the confrontation between the two people. "I will do it."
"I don't want to send Master to a dangerous place alone. If I can be of assistance, then please let me accompany you."
Veronica smiled at his attitude. "The kid said so, Vince."
"...Then it can't be helped."
"Well, think of this as the price for having a very good disciple. You don't have to worry about him doing well."
In the end, she smiled at Vince and picked up a piece of parchment from her desk drawer. Then she wrote on it roughly with a pen and stamped it with her seal. The stamp had a special ink, which only the Red Tower Master could use, and a certificate holding her name.
Veronica threw the piece of parchment toward Vince. "This is my stamped order. If necessary, use it to ask for the cooperation of Earl Bergen. You may not be able to encircle the organization with just two people."
"Huh? Wouldn't it be a nuisance for you to handle?"
"Hey, if I give it to you, then just accept it. What are you saying?" Veronica shouted, forcing Vince to accept the parchment with a grim expression.
Vince didn't think it was a good idea, but he thanked her anyway. She didn't finish there as she pulled out one more thing. "Kid, take this."
"Huh? Ah." A small pouch was placed on Theodore's palm. The outward appearance of the pouch resembled something he knew. Veronica spoke and reminded him of something he had forgotten about, "Apparently, your dimension pocket hasn't been reissued yet? So, I will lend you mine instead."
"Thank you for your consideration... Huh?" Theo made a confused sound as he found that the pocket had a strange weight.
"Tower Master, are there things inside?"
"Don't mind the clutter. Potions, scrolls... These things aren't very useful to me."
'Why would she leave useless things in her dimension pocket?' Theodore questioned inwardly, but he was able to see the reason after Veronica avoided his gaze. He smiled when he understood her secret intentions, while Veronica fanned her face with her hands. She still couldn't hide her feelings.
"Go. I've said everything I needed to say. Old Man Shugel must be waiting."
"I understand." Vince and Theo answered at almost the same time, but unlike Vince, Theo didn't turn around to leave. Instead, Theo looked at Veronica with a strange expression and said, "I will be back."
These last words were said soundlessly, with only the movement of his lips. He was embarrassed to say them in front of his master. However, the meaning of his words was conveyed. Veronica's eyes widened, then she was smiling like a blooming flower.
A light suddenly shone in a narrow space. It was an empty space without any furniture, and the dust on the floor rose up like a whirlwind. This was the phenomenon of spatial magic as people moved from Mana-vil Capital to Earl Bergen's territory.
Two people appeared in the distorted space. This time, they weren't accompanied by the caster of the magic, so Theo and Vince were the only ones to appear.
"...Hoo, these damn side effects haven't changed." Vince was no exception to the dizziness caused by spatial magic as he pressed a hand to his forehead. It was an inevitable side effect which affected anyone other than the White Tower elders who crossed space repeatedly.
Theodore was also affected, but it wasn't as bad for him as it was for Vince because Theo had experienced it recently.
"Should we take a rest for a while?"
"No, it is fine. This dizziness will go away quickly." As Vince said, he quickly regained his sense of balance. Then he immediately walked toward the exit.
Their location was a secret mansion on the outskirts of Bergen. It was a facility unavailable to magicians unless they were of a certain rank. Perhaps even Earl Bergen, the master of this territory, didn't know about the existence of the mansion.
The two people from the capital opened the secret door into the back alley and naturally blended with the crowd.
"...I didn't expect to come back to Bergen again. I sent a resignation letter after going to the capital," Vince murmured as he saw the familiar city views.
In retrospect, they had only been gone for around a month. However, there was a strange sensation, like he had been away for a long time.
Theodore felt the same way. 'The hobgoblin chief, Sylvia in the finals... the elder lich, the grimoire, and Veronica.'
He had struggled against monsters and met a genius he never thought he would reach in his lifetime. Theo had also encountered a monster he'd only read about in books and survived. Unexpectedly, Theo had even gotten acquainted with an unimaginable person who asked him to call her, 'Sister.'
Theodore had gone through so much in just one month. Vince had accepted Theo's diploma for him, but that didn't matter. Those days were like a dream in the night.
'...No, it isn't.' Theo denied it firmly as he looked at his heart. The five circles were moving as they followed the instructions of their master. It was clear evidence that the past month hadn't been a dream.
At that moment, Vince spoke quietly, "Theo."
"Let's look around first. We came secretly, so we shouldn't expose ourselves."
Their clothing were different from usual. Theodore and Vince were dressed in casual clothes and didn't look like magicians. The clothes were roughly woven mixtures of brown, grey, and green cloth which could be seen everywhere.
This was a mission to infiltrate the seedy world, so they couldn't be revealed as magicians from the magic towers.
The two people walked along the outskirts. Occasionally, they bought food which couldn't be called delicious from the street stalls. This type of camouflage wasn't difficult.
They walked around for approximately an hour while conversing.
"Foreigners... There seem to be a lot of people from Austen."
"There are aura users and well-trained warriors."
"They are either members of the [Shackler] organization or mercenaries. Either way, this isn't great. It is probably a patrol."
The veteran war mage and Theodore's sensory perception meant they could sense things ordinary people couldn't feel. It was easy to grasp the level of mana or if a person learned martial arts by looking at the movements of someone passing by.
As such, Theo's Hawkeye discovered strangely curved swords on someone's back. Theo pointed it out to Vince who explained,
"They are shamshirs, swords used by Austen warriors. The shape of the handle and the blades are streamlined."
The form made it difficult to stab something, but its utility was excellent. Such weapons were specifically designed for the warriors of the desert kingdom, Austen. It was at this moment that...
The two people recognized it at almost the same time, but they pretended to be ignorant and started moving again. Vince understood that he shared the same feeling with Theo, so he didn't look back as he opened his mouth.
He let out a small whisper which was difficult to hear even at close range, "There is a tail on us."
"Yes, but I don't feel any danger."
"I don't feel any killing intent either. Not assassins... Maybe they are intelligence operatives."
The two of them hadn't done anything which would cause doubts. They didn't know why there was a tail on them so quickly. The two people silently came to the same conclusion and turned toward a place that wasn't populated.
They were going to... 'Catch the tail.'
After a while, they reached an alley with no one around them.
'...?!' The person following them flinched as he sensed something strange, while the two magicians activated their magic power at the same time.
Vince finished his magic one minute earlier than Theo, and a blinding light emerged from his palm.
It was the 4th Circle magic, Burning Flash. This magic was extremely effective when used as a surprise attack. An empty void was revealed amidst the blinding light. Vince and Theo didn't know the method that the person used to hide, but the stealth was exquisite.
Furthermore, in a situation where the target's eyesight was lost, they reflexively prepared for battle. A person unused to fighting might've tried to flee, however, this person was outnumbered. "Ugh, dammit!"
Theo's spell, which was completed afterwards, caused an enormous pressure to tighten around the person following them, and the magic used to hide their body was turned off. However, a strange expression appeared on Theodore's face. "...You?"
The face revealed underneath the magic was of someone Theo knew.