Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“What a useless child.”
I remember being always afraid of the matron as she said those words and sighed.
Every time someone made a mistake—and they developed a negative attitude in fear of making mistakes—the matron would call them useless and punish them by making them skip meals. She would have them stand in one corner of the room, forcing them to watch everyone at the dinner table eating bread. Even when they collapsed in hunger, they would be woken up, forced to wait until dinner was over, and were ordered to wash everyone’s dishes.
It must have been the matron’s way of showing kindness.
When the kids grew up, they would have to leave the orphanage and live on their own.
She would pick out the most useless kid from the orphans and mistreat them to set an example, to etch in everyone’s mind that if they didn’t work hard, they would end up like that one useless kid.
Looking back, her method of upbringing was very efficient. The children at the orphanage worked hard every day, and not a single one of them slacked off.
However, there would always be someone who couldn’t keep up with the rest, no matter how hard they tried.
“You’re so obtuse. You’re more incompetent than any other child here!”
“I’m sorry,” I said. I could feel my heart dying a little every time I apologized.
“Your parents died because you’re so slow and useless.”
My parents died of an illness. Crying, I looked for a doctor, but no one would entertain a poor child.
My parents had no strength to eat the fruits I gathered in the forest, or the bread I stole. I could’ve stewed food to soften them, but I didn’t know how to start a fire.
The second time I tried stealing, I was caught and beaten so badly that I couldn’t even steal anymore.
My parents grew weaker and weaker by the day, and all I could do was give them water I drew from the well.
The matron’s words were stuck deep in my mind, taking root.
If I had been more useful, my parents would still be alive. It was my fault that they died. I killed my beloved parents.
I have to be useful to someone. I have to do something.
If I could help more people, I’m sure my parents would—
And for that…
I will do everything. I am even willing to make sacrifices.
“Dear Zero and Mercenary,
How are you doing?
I’ve been too busy ever since you left, but I finally had time to write a letter.
I hope you get this. It’s the first time I’ve used this Witch Letter, so I’m not so sure it works. It’s just old stuff I found buried inside my grandmother’s storehouse. Zero said I could use it to communicate with others even from a long distance, so here we are. I’m guessing you received it.
Now, then. On to my main point. We’re mostly done with formulating laws that will govern the use of Magic. Once promulgated to the public, we’ll begin educating our new Mages.
How’s everything on your side? Are you making progress on your investigation on Magic that might have been brought outside of Wenias?
I’ve been doing some digging myself, but they’re all just unreliable rumors.
So you know that Wenias banning witch hunts is like opposing the Church, right? Because of it, anti-Church groups in other countries have become more active, apparently. Not witches, but ordinary humans who wish to become one, are saying that the age of witches has come.
Oh, wait. I guess it’s Mage now, instead of “witch”. I’m still getting used to it.
So anyway. All I’m getting is chaotic information.
Skirmishes between the Church and anti-Church groups are happening all over the place, and neighbouring countries want Wenias to take responsibility.
I’ve even heard rumors of a one-of-a-kind book of Magic that gives you power to rule the world just by reading it being traded at an incredibly high price.
If it’s true, then they’re stupid. After all, I have the real book, the Grimoire of Zero.
Apparently Thirteenth had some members of the Coven of Zero secretly make a copy of the book, but the situation changed before they could complete it.
Speaking of that crafty and annoying Thirteenth… Thanks to him, we’ve figured out the approximate number of Mages that left Wenias. He said there are at most ten of them, judging by the unaccounted proof of enlistment to the Coven.
Oh, I’m running out of space to write. That’s it for now.
P.S. Let me know if you’re planning to come to Wenias. I’ll be expecting some souvenirs.
“It turned into a letter…” I muttered with surprise as I stared at the surprisingly neat handwriting.
I was sitting by the window of the vast dining hall that occupied the entire ground floor of a roadside inn.
If I recall correctly, there was nothing on it yesterday.
The words of someone in the kingdom of Wenias were definitely written on the piece of paper. It was a parchment that Albus gave me when we parted ways in Wenias. She said, “Keep that paper with you and you’ll receive a letter from me,” but I didn’t expect it to arrive this way.
So if we wrote on this parchment, the words would be shown on the parchment that Albus owned?
“Witches’ tools sure are useful…” I murmured with a sigh. I wasn’t sure if I was astonished or impressed.
If it was distributed to the public, it would make life easier, but witch tools were fundamentally difficult to obtain and manufacture.
The Witch Letter itself was said to be a rare item created by placing the hide of twin goats born on the night of a new moon at the center of a Magic circle, and exposing it to moonlight for seven days and seven nights. Both parchments would have to be marked by an engraving with a pen made from the bones of the mother goat. All in all, it was an eerie and troublesome process.
Since Wenias now supported Mages, it might become a common item among the public one day.
There were many other kinds of witch’s tools as well. Some people would not think twice about spending their fortune for them. A traveling merchant, for example, would be eager to get their hands on a Witch Letter, since they could use it to contact people from far away immediately.
Then again, using an item created by witches, the Church’s natural enemies, would have dire consequences.
“Did you hear about Wenias?”
Then suddenly I heard a voice in the otherwise noisy dining hall.
The roadside inn, frequented by all sorts of people, was also a place for travelers to exchange information.
Amid the din of conversations reduced to mere noise, my ears caught curious words. I listened attentively to the men who appeared to be merchants.
“I did. The kingdom banned witch hunts, right? Coexistence with witches, apparently. To think they were at war with them until recently.”
“I heard a righteous witch defeated the evil sorcerer who tried to take over the kingdom. Wenias cut ties with the Church, and started supporting witches.”
“Supporting witches? I doubt the Knights Templar will just sit around and do nothing.”
Of course not. Not when the kingdom openly accepted witches, the Church’s sworn enemies. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Church dispatched a large group of knights to crush the heretical nation.
But Wenias decided to break away from the Church precisely because they believed they wouldn’t be defeated easily.
“And that’s where Magic comes in. So witches used to perform rituals that lasted for days to cast powerful spells, right? Now all they have to do is recite some incantation and they can use Magic.”
“I saw it with my own eyes when I passed through Wenias. What’s more, anyone can use this Magic thing as long as they have the knack for it. Just need to train for about five years. In other words, Wenias obtained an asset powerful enough to stand against the Church.”
On top of that, the kingdom of Wenias, located in the middle of the continent, was a center of diplomatic relations where travelers from all over the world stopped by. No country would want a war to break out there, so the Church had to be extra cautious.
“I see. So if I went to Wenias, I could learn this “Magic” too?”
“It’s possible, or so I heard. But I doubt you can. You don’t look the least bit like a mystical sorcerer.”
“What did you say?”
The men burst into laughter, then moved on to business matters.