At the Crossroad of Trust #2
Having spent five years at Bergen Academy, Theo had realized one thing: he shouldn't judge people by their light words or temporary actions.
Classmates who pretended to be friends had turned away from him, while the professors treated him like a fool. It would be foolish to trust people like them.
However, Professor Vince was different.
-Are you the long-time dunce? I don't know what idiot created that nickname.
-The answer to this final exam was excellent. If you don't mind, come to my laboratory after school. I will teach you a little more.
-Don't mind those playing tricks on you. You are a better person than anyone at this academy.
-Theodore Miller, do you want to try being a magic scholar?
Theo remembered all of their conversations. They were words which had saved the frustrated, disappointed, and ashamed Theodore.
Vince was the only one who recognized Theo's value. The academy's best magician had said that he believed in the talent of the long-time dunce.
His words had created the present Theodore.
'Professor Vince... the only person in this academy that I trust and can confide in...'
If even Vince wasn't trustworthy, then he would never been able to tell anyone in the future.
Theodore's eyes sank as he realized something; he couldn't live like this forever. Eventually, someone would notice books were missing from the library, and people would raise doubts about Theo's sudden skills and performance.
In that situation, he was a mere student with neither the power nor the status to preserve his rights. However, it was a different story if he had Professor Vince as his ally.
'Obviously, I can try to stop that situation from happening... but like this, I can get help. It will also be easier to get the necessary books.'
There was the possibility that he wouldn't get caught before graduation, or the probability that Professor Vince wouldn't betray him. Either way, the indefinite future couldn't be quantified.
The scales in Theodore's mind were leaning toward the latter.
"Professor, I'd like to show you something, so please don't be surprised."
Vince, who was watching him quietly, nodded with a serious expression. It was just for a moment, but the weight of the worries which appeared on Theo's face was really heavy. After such distress, it was a secret he would tell Vince. So, he needed to be dignified.
Theo took a few deep breaths before placing Roaring Flames, which he was holding in his right hand, onto the table. Then he placed his left hand above it.
"Gluttony, come out."
As always, it responded faithfully to his call.
A tongue protruded from the open hole in the palm of his hand. Professor Vince jumped, but he didn't cast a spell thanks to what Theo had said earlier.
As the eyes of the two people met, Gluttony's tongue wrapped around its prey as usual. Its prey was the pendant, Roaring Flames, which was emitting an intense magic power.
[+7 Roaring Flames (Accessory)]
[As a silver pendant containing a small amount of mithril, it is a high-grade magic stone. This pendant was produced by Viscount Carter, and the way to create it doesn't exist anymore. The owner can form a contract by dripping blood on the pendant in order to use all the functions. When this pendant is activated, magic power will temporarily increase and affinity to fire magic will also increase.
* The rating of this pendant is 'Precious'.
* When consumed, a considerable amount of magic power will be absorbed.
* When consumed, the digestion time is 1 hour and 38 minutes.
*Current contractor: Garcia Carter.
* Starting spell: Red light streaking across the sky]
'Precious rating...?! It is truly different from the other items.'
Theo admired the value of 'Roaring Flames'. Until now, most of his items had a Normal rating, with an occasionally Rare emerging. However, 'Roaring Flames' was beyond that limit.
It was also the first time that the digestion of an object exceeded one hour. The stronger items would probably take longer to digest.
"C-Can I ask for an explanation?"
Professor Vince belatedly regained his spirit and pointed to the tongue with his finger. However, Theo looked down at Gluttony instead of answering his question. It was waiting for his permission like a well-trained hound.
"It isn't over yet... Eat."
The tongue instantly wrapped around Roaring Flames, and it was sucked Theo's left hand. As always, it made a sound, expressing that the food was delicious.
At the sound, Professor Vince sank back into his chair with an agitated expression.
"Professor, are you okay?"
Theo wanted to take a moment for the shock to wear off, but Vince's eyes were shouting at him to explain. Originally, magicians emerged amongst those who couldn't refrain from their curiosity.
To do this to the curiosity of a 5th Circle master, who was almost at the 6th Circle, was like throwing a thirsty man into the desert.
In the end, Theodore started explaining what had happened to Roaring Flames.
* * *
The story ended earlier than expected.
Vince was a magician as well as a genius scholar. If Theo explained one thing to him, he could grasp three or four other meanings, and Vince soon understood Gluttony's existence.
"Indeed, it is a greedy grimoire."
Professor Vince shook his head as he let out a cry of amazement. He was much wiser than Theo, who had absorbed the knowledge in the library, so he knew how ridiculous it was. It was possible to obtain the magic or magic power of the owner just by eating...?
This was something which modern magicians couldn't imagine.
Vince, who was excited for a while, calmed down and smiled at Theo.
"But as a professor, I can't praise the fact that you fed it library books."
"Well, it can't be helped if your life is at stake."
It was either the books in the library or his life. Anybody would have made the same choice as Theodore. So, instead of reprimanding him, Vince made a joking remark, and Theo responded like that.
It was a story which could be laughed off because the price of books had dropped a lot 150 years ago, with the advent of the book copying magic.
After Vince's questions were over, it was Theo's turn to ask something.
"Excuse me, there is one thing I would like to ask."
However, Vince already knew the question before he even asked it. "I think I know. Do you want to ask why I'm not greedy for the grimoire?"
"I-I'm really sorry."
"There is no need to apologize. It is an obvious question."
He took another sip of his already cold coffee and explained about grimoires. "Magicians who don't major in archeology won't be familiar with it, but anyone who studies ancient magic like me would know. Theodore, the grimoire stuck in your palm is useless to me."
"Huh?!" Theo's eyes widened at the unexpected words.
"Although it is unusual to have a grimoire that takes the form of the name of the book, they tend to choose their masters themselves. If a person kills the owner, they would be lucky if the grimoire doesn't steal something or retaliate against them. Actually, there are a few cases of magicians being killed by grimoires that they tried forcibly to take away."
"Of course, it is also impossible to transfer it. Rather, it would be better to study the grimoire by the owner's side."
'Ah.' Theo raised his head. He now understood what Vince was saying.
He nodded with a satisfied expression. It didn't need to be a one-sided relationship. Theo could negotiate using 'studying' the book as a bargaining chip. It wasn't an exaggeration to say that the two people were on equal footing.
As a seasoned person, in comparison to someone who wasn't even in their 20s, it wouldn't be difficult to fool Theo. However, Vince taught him without concealing any information.
Additionally, Vince bowed deeply toward Theo.
"Thank you for telling me. I, Vince Haidel, will reward your trust as a teacher and fellow magician."
"Then shouldn't something be done to maintain this trust in our relationship?"
There was no time to say anything.
As Theodore lifted his head with surprise, a red light shone around Vince's hands. It wasn't attack magic nor defense magic. This was the Oath magic which only magicians who reached the 5th Circle could use.
'It can't be...!'
Vince's voice resonated due to the the magic power.
"I, Vince Haidel, make this oath. I will be quiet about any secrets that Theodore Miller doesn't allow me to share. This oath will be observed by the rules of magic."
It was a magic used in trials and interrogations.
The magic couldn't be triggered through the coercion of others. The user had to make the decision on their own. Additionally, it was a magic which couldn't be canceled once activated.
Compared to the 'Geass Scroll' Theo used, this was a higher-ranked restriction. As the red light around Vince's hands faded away, Vince stretched out his hand.
"I look forward to our relationship in the future, Theodore Miller."
Theo was no longer seen as a student or child, but a fellow magician. Theodore grabbed Professor Vince's hand excitedly. Now that he was recognized as a magician, he wasn't a child anymore.
Somehow, he couldn't shed any tears.
Theo closed his eyes as warmth came from Vince's hand. It was the first time that the academy's long-time dunce, Theodore Miller, made a true ally.