Predicting the number of people – Part 1

“What is the meaning of this, Lord Elvis?!”

Lux slammed his hands on Elvis’ desk, anger painting his face red.
The Fortesea’s head was sitting on the other side of the desk while wearing a stony and collected expression.

“My, why are you so indignant?”

“It’s for that slave merchant! Do you understand what you have done?!”

Lux, the creator of Richtert’s Guards, heard that Takumi had been arrested, and he couldn’t accept it.
That slave merchant was surely a dangerous guy, but he was trustworthy and useful every now and then. That’s why Lux tried to create a relationship where they could both gain from each other.

He was dead serious when he thought he would willingly smear his own family name to overthrow Elvis, but his plan had crumbled to pieces.
Because after the fight in the arena… the Fortesea’s head acknowledged Takumi as a danger.

Lux wanted to keep Takumi’s existence somewhat concealed, then come up with a scrupulous plan that not even Elvis could predict to overthrow Fortesea…
But saving Archbishop Crest took priority and he couldn’t really decline a request from the Queen.
That was just another reason to save Takumi, and exactly because Elvis had probably figured everything out so far, he wasn’t budging.

“The aforesaid slave merchant has been seen by many witnesses, though.”

“The slums’ guard wrote that he followed them and didn’t resist! Nothing else counts!”

“I see. However, many witnesses say that he approached the east tower, where Kiad has been found lifeless in his basement room, and then they’ve seen him walking back. Their testimony counts as evidence.”

Lux balled his fists. The old man’s statement was too prompt and precise. He wasn’t fooling around.

“Are you trying to frame him for something he didn’t do and send him to prison?!”

“Yes. Do you have a problem with it?”

Elvis replied with unexpected honesty.

“That slave merchant is a traitor of our country, who dared to attack and shake the pillar that sustains us all—magic. It should be clear even to you that his actions were other-worldly foolish.”

Lux didn’t know how to answer and pressed his lips tight together, his expression warping.

Takumi had surely spread doubts about the almighty of magic by showing everyone that ‘mere’ demi-humans could defeat magic knights.
Kunon could smash magic by using her demi-human skills, and Karin could pierce through magic tools by taking advantage of their flaws.
Those facts were the ultimate proof that magic in itself wasn’t almighty, so the deterrent that kept their country safe until now had been proven beatable.

However, putting Takumi in jail right now meant rising a death flag, since he could still come in handy to prevent a disaster.
Elvis had framed the slave merchant for Kiad’s murder and was now planning to make the Inquisition punish him according to Filia’s teachings, which meant erasing his very existence.
The head of Fortesea had chosen to sacrifice his own son to eliminate any other threat.

“Is that your point…?!”

Right after Lux slammed his fists on the desk, his body stiffened.
Elvis’ glacial gaze was piercing him like an ice cold knife.

“My son has died. Would there be any other reason to do this?”

A sharp light shimmered in his uninterested eyes.

“You improved quite a lot… Lux Fairstadt.”

Those words made the young man notice the cold sweat running down his back.

“You are not to be underestimated. You earned your position despite your young age and you never smear the ‘righteous’ title you have inherited from your predecessor, Zeruel Fairstadt, with inappropriate actions. Our people strongly support and respect you thanks to your hard work…”

Elvis took an awfully long pause before opening his mouth again.

“…and yet, you are hopelessly boring.”

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. You are holding on to the ambition, or perhaps I should call it ‘secret plan’, of overthrowing Fortesea, the family who sits atop Richtert. Watching you act for such a trivial objective is merely pitiful.”

The two men’s gazes clashed against each other.
Lux was peering into unreadable mysterious eyes… they looked terribly similar to someone else’s.

“Elvis… what are you planning to do?”

“Now that you have asked, you are better to wash your hands of that slave merchant. At least, that guy could figure out something you do not.”

Lux was dumbfounded.
It was exactly because Takumi had figured it out that he was bearing a false charge and was imprisoned.
Still… if he could break free, Elvis’ plan would be doomed.

“You are not good enough to control him right now. He will consume you and you will soon watch your country weaken and die. This is why I have to handle him before everything is doomed.”

“I see… there’s only one thing I can do, then.”

Lux showed a bold smile while facing the man who sat atop Richtert.

“I will save him and drag you down, Elvis Fortesea.”

After his declaration, Lux turned on his heels and left the room.
Elvis, watching him from behind, couldn’t help but smile.


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